Singapore fingers deported fraudster for leak of list of thousands of HIV

Singapore fingers deported fraudster for leak of list of thousands of HIV

Singapore fingers deported fraudster for leak of list of thousands of HIV

An HIV-positive American has leaked online the names of 14,200 Singaporeans and foreigners also diagnosed in the city-state with the human immunodeficiency virus, the Health Ministry said on Monday.

Singapore's health ministry has apologised over the leak, saying it became aware in 2016 that United States citizen Mikhy Farrera Brochez was in possession of confidential information that appeared to be from the country's HIV registry. These included HIV test results, names, identification numbers, phone numbers, addresses and other health information, it said on Monday.

Outraged Singaporeans have blasted the Ministry of Health (MOH) for keeping silent about the leak of confidential information from the HIV registry for years, until the information was disclosed online by a foreigner.

Brochez was HIV-positive and used his Singaporean doctor partner's blood sample to pass blood tests so he could work in Singapore, the ministry said.

"This incident is believed to have arisen from the mishandling of information by [the doctor], who is suspected of not having complied with the policies and guidelines on the handling of confidential information", the ministry said.

When contacted, the police said they are seeking the help of their foreign counterparts in their investigations. New safety measures include a two-person approval process to either download or decrypt information from the HIV Registry.

Only when the police notified MOH last week (22 Jan) that the confidential information possessed by Farrera-Brochez has been leaked online that MOH chose to inform the public yesterday.

Last year, Singapore revealed that personal information of about 1.5 million people including the prime minister was stolen after hackers infiltrated the government health database. It is indeed curious that the ministry held out until the information was actually leaked to inform the public of the illegal possession of confidential records.

A two-person approval process to download and decrypt registry information was implemented to ensure that the data can not be accessed by a single person.

"The information has been illegally disclosed online", it said.

"Our counsellors are also available to assist them and to provide additional support if necessary", said the health minister.

"Police will not hesitate to take stern action, including prosecution, against those who have breached the OSA". He was convicted in September of abetting Brochez in criminal activity, and sentenced to 24 months' imprisonment.

"The Police would like to remind the public that it is an offence under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) for any person to be in possession of, communicate or use any of the confidential data that may have been disclosed".

Sentenced to two years in jail, Ler is appealing against the sentence, with the hearing scheduled for March. But he does not have a practising certificate or access to MOH and public healthcare IT systems with patient records.

The ministry said it was notified by the police last Tuesday that confidential information of HIV patients had been leaked, and made a police report the following day.

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