To uninformed outsiders, Singapore may appear to be a veritable dystopia — a perfect and orderly society run like clockwork by a sinister deep state. The introduction of the TraceTogether app and token to conduct more effective contact tracing has only fuelled this suspicion, with the optics of these devices giving the unfortunate appearance of citizens being microchipped by the state. 

Anecdotally, some Singaporeans have expressed dismay at this perceived surveillance and still more have refused to download the app for this reason. In response, the government has taken pains to assure Singaporeans that there is nothing to be afraid of. 

“There is neither a secretly installed Covid-19 tracker installed on your phone, nor should you worry about your privacy when you use the TraceTogether app — TraceTogether does not collect your location data and can only show connections between devices, not locations,” says the government’s Gov.Sg website. Yet, the TraceTogether app has been downloaded just 2.4 million times thus far — equivalent to less than half the population and thus not optimally effective for what it is created for. 

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