Suspicious that his wife was having an extra-marital affair, a police officer looked up information on his wife’s male friend through the Singapore Police Force’s (SPF) computer network.
For his actions, Station Inspector Sharul Osman was fined $8,000 by the State Courts on Wednesday (7 February) after he pleaded guilty to two charges under the Computer misuse and Cybersecurity Act.
The court heard that in January 2016, Sharul noticed from his telephone bills that his wife had been making frequent calls to a particular phone number. He looked up the number on Facebook and found a man’s profile.
He then sent text messages to the man. When the man said there was nothing wrong with him talking to Sharul’s wife, Sharul became annoyed and wanted to confront the man in person. He decided to perform a background search on the man in order to prepare for the confrontation.
Sharul did so using the SPF’s FOCUS computer system, which is meant to allow officers to lodge police reports as well as search for details on reports made by members of the public.
On 15 February 2016, Sharul logged into FOCUS using the username and password belonging to a colleague so that he could avoid detection. He then looked up information on the man in question.
Sharul’s offences were discovered while the SPF’s internal affairs officers were investigating unauthorised screenings conducted by Sharul’s colleague.
Asking for leniency, Sharul’s lawyer Sng Kheng Huat called his client’s actions a momentary lapse of judgement and asked for a fine. Conversely, Deputy Public Prosecutor Alexander Woon noted that all SPF officers who use the FOCUS system are aware that it should be used only for official purposes.
Yahoo News Singapore understands that Sharul has also been interdicted from the police force.
Under the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act, a person who uses a computer to access unauthorised information can be fined up to $5,000 and jailed up to two years, or both, on a first conviction. A second or subsequent conviction will attract a fine of up to $10,000, a jail term of up to three years, or both.
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