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Forcing NSmen to Use LifeSG App to Use NS55 Credits Throws Up Privacy Concerns

NSmen must download and use the LifeSG app in order to spend their S$100 NS55 vouchers, and only unless they have “exhausted all means of assistance” can they obtain physical vouchers.

This move has raised strong privacy concerns among LifeSG app users, related to the collection, use and distribution of data by the government.

As described in the LifeSG app privacy statement, the app will monitor and track usage to understand user behaviour, trends and preferences.

This has led some to question why such tracking is necessary, since it is essentially a platform for Singaporeans to use government services and find out information on government initiatives.

Besides this, LifeSG states that it may share, transfer and disclose Data with relevant third party service providers in connection with your Use of LifeSG and LifeSG Materials, unless such sharing is prohibited by written law.

The LifeSG app also has the potential to collect data about your friends and contacts.

It is uncertain exactly what data LifeSG collects, and which parties it shares this data with.

Some have raised concerns about potential abuse of data privacy by the government, following the TraceTogether app debacle.

In that instance, Singaporeans were assured in parliament by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, who heads the Smart Nation initiative, that TraceTogether will only be used for contact tracing purposes.

The Health Ministry had also stated this upfront on its website terms of use.

However, Singaporeans received a rude shock when we discovered that police were already using TraceTogether data even before Dr Balakrishnan had made his statement.

The law was then amended to allow police the use of TraceTogether app data in certain circumstances.

And even if Singaporeans withdraw their consent to use the LifeSG app, they cannot compel LifeSG to delete our data.

A clause states that:

“Notwithstanding the withdrawal of such consent, we may continue retaining, handling, collecting, using, disclosing and processing your Data for any of the Purposes if we are permitted to do so under the law.”

The LifeSG app, developed by the government as part of its Smart Nation initiative, is aimed at being a one-stop portal for Singaporeans to use government services.

Already, many NSmen have complained that “might as well don’t give” if the government is forcing Singaporeans to download the LifeSG app.

Among the criticisms include “MINDEF being insincere” for making it so difficult just to spend a “paltry S$100”.

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