Re-register with ID numbers on updated TraceTogether app

This article is more than 12 months old

About a quarter of the 1.8 million users of TraceTogether have updated their app to the latest version, which requires them to re-register with their identification numbers.

These 450,000 app users had previously entered their mobile phone numbers, but the new requirement to supply more personal data is needed under stepped-up measures to combat the spread of Covid-19.

A spokesman for the Government Technology Agency (GovTech) told The Straits Times that all versions of the app will still work in exchanging and logging Bluetooth signals with nearby devices.

In the event that someone is infected, the Bluetooth data logs in the devices will quickly unravel who had been in close contact with the patient.

GovTech said making app users re-register with NRIC, FIN or passport numbers will allow close contacts to be identified more accurately and quickly.

For instance, people may have multiple mobile numbers registered in their names, but their family members or workers may be the ones using the numbers.

"So, for example, Mr A may own several mobile telephones all registered under him but then he gave them to different workers.

Tracing by just the mobile number is problematic," said Mr K.K. Lim, head of cyber security, privacy and data protection at law firm Eversheds Harry Elias.

GovTech urged users not to delete the old version of their TraceTogether app as it will result in a loss of previously collected data. Rather, they should update their existing app with the latest version.

The updated TraceTogether app also carries a unique NRIC/FIN barcode that belongs to the user, enabling quicker check-in at stores, buildings and locations with the national digital check-in system SafeEntry.

The Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG) said that having a common data field such as identification numbers will allow greater interoperability between TraceTogether and SafeEntry.

For instance, contact tracers can identify the close contacts of Covid-19 patients by their NRIC numbers and locate their home addresses, even if their phone numbers change or their phones are switched off.

SafeEntry and TraceTogether are currently two separate systems, said a SNDGG spokesman.

"SafeEntry collects check-in and check-out data that helps contact tracers establish clusters, and potentially find the source of infection, while TraceTogether helps to find links between close contacts," she said. "Both are important for contact tracing and the speedy isolation of suspected cases."