Published: Wed, January 30, 2019
Medicine | By Tracy Klein

USA citizen leaks data on 14200 people in Singapore with HIV

USA citizen leaks data on 14200 people in Singapore with HIV

An HIV-positive American who had been deported from Singapore after serving a jail term has leaked online the personal data of 14,200 Singaporeans and foreigners diagnosed in the city-state with the virus.

The MOH said the information was in the possession of a US citizen named Mikhy K Farrera Brochez, who had been remanded to prison in Singapore in 2016, convicted of numerous fraud and drug-related offenses. The information included each person's name, identification number, phone number and address, HIV test results, and related medical information.

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.

The US man was eventually deported from Singapore in 2018 after he was convicted of fraud and drug-related offences and sentenced to 28 months in jail.

His partner previously had access to the HIV registry for his work, the ministry said.

Brochez is now under police investigation and Singapore police are seeking assistance from their foreign counterparts, said MOH.

The MoH said it first notified police that Brochez might have accessed health records in May 2016.

An HIV-positive U.S. expat now on the run has leaked the HIV-positive status of 14,200 people - plus their contact details and the names of some of their sex partners - from a Singaporean health database.

In May 2018, it was found that Brochez still had part of the records that he had in 2016, but the information did not appear to have been disclosed in any public manner.

The hack comes after the health records of 1.5million Singaporeans, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, were stolen in a suspected state-sponsored attack in June and July, the country's biggest ever data breach.

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.

"Going forward, we will continue to strengthen and to review our systems to ensure they are secure, and our priority remains the patients' well-being and we will extend whatever assistance and support that we can for them".

He also said officials believe Farrera-Brochez was overseas, but do not know where.

"The information has been illegally disclosed online". A workstation specifically configured and locked down to prevent unauthorised information removal was designated for the processing of sensitive information from the HIV Registry.

Singapore-based advocacy group Action for AIDS said the case has the "potential of damaging the lives of persons living with HIV and their loved ones". Ler was charged in Court in June 2016 for offenses under the Penal Code and the Official Secrets Act (OSA).

Jan 23, 2019: MOH made a police report.

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. The ministry said it then worked with "relevant parties" to disable access to the information.

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