Bad day in uniform (1)

Mar 16, 2017 06.40PM |

by Bertha Henson

Here’s what we think of the response from the men in green on the subject of personal data.

We refer to the letter by Mr Darryl Lo on the labelling of our recruits’ portraits using their NRIC number.

Basic Military Training Centre (BMTC) recognises that making available our recruits’ portraits, labelled together with their NRIC numbers on a platform accessible to the general public, was an oversight. We apologise for the mistake. (What do you mean “recognise’’ this oversight? Why not just say apologise for making available portraits and NRIC numbers?)

In order to make the BMT graduation parade a memorable and meaningful event, BMTC uploads soft-copy portraits of our recruits online so that they may share these with their family and friends. This effort has been warmly received by the recruits. (It’s great that you want the recruits to feel good so score 1 to you. Are you saying that want to do good, also kena tekan??)

Previously, the soft-copy portraits were labelled manually via a different system, such as the use of the recruits’ Platoon, Section and Bed Number. However, for the most recent graduating BMT cohort, the labelling was auto-generated via the scanning of the recruits’ SAF identity cards for the purpose of speeding up the process. This resulted in the portraits being labelled by NRIC numbers. No other personal data were released. (Blame technology)

BMTC immediately removed the link to the portraits by noon the following day, when the oversight was realised. We are reviewing our procedures to prevent a similar recurrence. (How was the oversight discovered?)

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Other questions:

a. How many soldiers got their face and NRIC numbers publicly splashed? A few thousands?

b. How long in all were they in the public space? Remember that a minute is a long time on the internet.

c. How was the “oversight’’ discovered and who was responsible, besides the machine, for this oversight?

d. How did this come to pass when just a month ago, the personal data of 850 soldiers were stolen? Sure, it’s not related but wouldn’t there be a higher level of alertness after that?

e. Will Mindef or SAF be penalised under the Personal Data Protection Act? Probably not as it does not apply to G agencies. So what sort of oversight (not the same as “oversight’’ above) is being exercised over the protection of personal data by G agencies?

Seriously Mindef/SAF, you need to do more to show people that you are capable of being cyber-warriors that the minister has painted – and not a leaky vessel.

Read part 2 here.

Featured image by Sean Chong.

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