US citizen leaks data on 14,200 people in Singapore with HIV

Desiree Burns
January 29, 2019

According to Singapore authorities, Mikhy K Farrera Brochez had obtained the confidential information through his Singaporean partner Ler Teck Siang, a doctor with access to Ministry of Health records.

The Health Ministry had become aware in May 2016 that Brochez was in possession of confidential information that appeared to be from the country's HIV Registry.

Singapore police warned people against sharing the patients' information.

The records that have been leaked include those of 5,400 Singaporeans diagnosed with HIV up to January 2013, and 8,800 foreigners diagnosed up to December 2011, MOH said at a press conference at the College of Medicine Building.

The records contained individuals' names, identification numbers, phone numbers, addresses, test results and a slew of other health information.

"I'm sorry that one of our former staff who was authorised to have access to confidential information in our HIV registry appears to not have complied with our security guidelines", Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said at a Monday news conference, Singapore's Today Online news website reports. He has since been deported from Singapore and remains outside its shorelines.

The latest breach, while not due to a cyber attack, comes after Singapore's worst cyber attack in 2018.

The hack comes just months after the records of 1.5m Singaporeans, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, were stolen a year ago.

Officials said Ler offered his own blood labelled as Farrera-Brochez's to allow him entry to the country.

Ler has also been charged under the OSA for failing to take reasonable care of confidential information regarding HIV-positive patients.

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The ministry noted in its statement that since 2016, it has set up additional safeguards in order to prevent any information from being mishandled in the future. "Our priority is the wellbeing of the affected individuals. We will extend whatever assistance and support that we can for them". Those with information or concerns can call the MOH hotline on 6325-9220.

Police are investigating and authorities are seeking help from foreign counterparts.

The personal details of 14,200 HIV-positive Singaporeans have been published online in a malicious attack by a convicted criminal.

To successfully apply for an employment pass to stay here with his boyfriend, Farrera-Brochez submitted a HIV-negative test result to MOM in March 2008 using Ler's blood for the test. His partner previously had access to the HIV registry for his work, it said.

He was convicted in September previous year of abetting Farrera-Brochez to cheat and of providing false information to the police and Ministry of Health (MOH).

Ler was charged in court in June 2016 for offences under the Penal Code and the Official Secrets Act (OSA). Farrera-Brochez was remanded in prison.

The ministry said Brochez worked in Singapore as a lecturer for a period before he was jailed for several drug and fraud-related offences and deported past year.

April 2018: Farrera-Brochez was released from prison and deported. A police report was made by MOH but it did not inform the public about it. He was sentenced to 24 months' jail.

On Jan 22 this year, MOH was notified by the police that Brochez may still have more information from the HIV Registry, and had leaked it online.

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