Balancing privacy and global security

I am concerned about whether my personal records and private space of communication have been intruded upon and spied by others ("Obligatory outrage on the continent..."; Saturday).

It appears that no citizen in the world can elude the scrutiny of governments and private surveillance agencies. The lack of information about terrorists and their activities pose considerable risks to a country. And the lack of personal and financial information on wealthy tax evaders often robs a government of its dues. Offshore financial centres and tax havens remain as thorns in the flesh of any government in their fight against tax evasion, money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

Thus, it makes sense for governments to actively pursue information at home and across borders.

Singapore agencies such as the Internal Security Department, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore and the Security and Intelligence Division serve and protect the interest of citizens by safeguarding their personal and financial information.

Are there policies, governance and tight privacy rules within these agencies to prevent the abuse and misuse of information? What about eavesdropping and unauthorised access to details such as Internet protocol addresses, e-mail correspondences, Web search history and phone conversations?

As global citizens, we understand the need for information transparency to deter criminal activities and mitigate national security risks. At the same time, we worry about whether there are controls in place to ensure that the privacy of individuals is not violated.

George Lim Heng Chye, Reader

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