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Valar Qringaomis

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Monday, February 29, 2016

Privacy and ERP II

The award of ERP II, the next generation Electronic Road Pricing which will track vehicles' locations by satellite, has raised questions about privacy, which are glibly dismissed by some .

Here are some common objections and responses to them:

Google, Facebook and your Telco are already tracking you. So this is nothing.

You can opt out of Facebook (not have an account), Google (not have an account/use privacy software) or phone tracking (don't have a phone, or turn it off).

You can't opt out of ERPII.

You can give Facebook or Google false information if you're worried about privacy. Many people do that.

If you give the government false information you will go to jail.

The Singaporean Government is Benevolent and will not Abuse this ability to track vehicles

Google's motto is "Don't be evil".

The Singapore government's motto can be summarised as "I am often accused of interfering in the private lives of citizens. Yes, if I did not, had I not done that, we wouldn't be here today. And I say without the slightest remorse, that we wouldn't be here, we would not have made economic progress, if we had not intervened on very personal matters - who your neighbour is, how you live, the noise you make, how you spit, or what language you use. We decide what is right. Never mind what the people think".

Which motto do you trust more?

Furthermore, if after the system is installed the PAP falls from power and a rogue government comes to power, what if they abuse the system?

In addition, CCTVs were installed in MRT stations with the claim that it was for security purposes.

Today they're mostly used to catch people for eating.

What does that say?

Even if the information is not strictly abused, it is used for purposes other than its original justifications.

If you haven't done anything wrong, you have nothing to fear

If I take an upskirt video of a woman for personal consumption but she doesn't notice and I never show it to anyone, have I done something wrong? Is there some harm done to her?

If the government reads my personal email to my wife but I and my wife don't know and the government never tells anyone, has it done anything wrong? Is there some harm done to me and my wife?


In any event, Singaporeans approach to privacy is notable.

When ERP II was first announced I surveyed the ground reaction in online forums frequented by ordinary Singaporeans, and lots of people were complaining... but they were all complaining that this was just another way for the government to earn money.

No one complained about privacy.

Singaporeans don't care about privacy.
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