Written Reply by Minister for Defence, Dr Ng Eng Hen, to Parliamentary Question on Policy on Use of Smartphones in Army Camps

Written Reply by Minister for Defence, Dr Ng Eng Hen, to Parliamentary Question on Policy on Use of Smartphones in Army Camps

Er Dr Lee Bee Wah: To ask the Minister for Defence since the relaxation of the policy on the use of smartphones in army camps in March 2016, how many SAF personnel have taken up the offer and disabled or sandblasted the camera lens on their smartphones so that they can use the phones in the camps' red zones.

Dr Ng Eng Hen: The security zoning system was introduced in Sep 2012 to allow servicemen to carry camera equipped mobile phones into SAF camps to facilitate the use of information technology, whilst protecting the security of sensitive information in SAF premises. Under the security zoning system, camp complexes are divided into Red and Green Zones. Our servicemen are allowed to bring in camera-enabled mobile phones into Green Zones while no camera-enabled devices are allowed into Red Zones. Unauthorised photography and videography remain prohibited in both zones. Our servicemen are briefed on the importance of maintaining information security and are aware of the need for individual responsibility to abide by the requirements.

The SAF has progressively refined security zoning in SAF camps and premises, balancing the need for security with greater flexibility for servicemen. The security zoning has worked well and has not compromised security. Since 2012, we have consolidated spaces involving sensitive and classified information into Red Zones, while allowing servicemen who work in the less-sensitive Green Zones greater flexibility to use their camera-enabled mobile phones. On 1 March 2016, further revisions were made to enable servicemen to bring tablets and laptops into Green Zones. For Red Zones, camera-enabled mobile phones whose camera functions have been disabled in compliance with the SAF's standards are allowed.

For SAF personnel working in camps that have both Green and Red Zones, less than 10% of the population disable or sandblast the camera lens of their mobile phones because (a) the majority of the servicemen operate within Green Zones, (b) servicemen with camera smartphones may choose to deposit their phones in locker facilities before entering Red Zones, and (c) some servicemen prefer to use non-camera smartphones. For the remaining Red-Zoned camps, about three-quarters of the servicemen disable their camera on the smartphone and the remaining one-quarter prefer to use a non-camera smartphone. These smartphones are subjected to security checks and verifications.


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