This is what Shanmugam said in response to WP’s Sylvia Lim in parliament yesterday (18 Feb 2022). She said that she received a threat warning from Apple suggesting her iPhone could have been subjected to hacking.
“Not long ago, I received a threat warning from Apple informing me that it could be that my iPhone has been the subject of hacking by state-sponsored attackers, and they also said it is likely to be so because of who I am individually or what I do.”Sylvia Lim
She then asked if she should be concerned about the Singapore government agencies trying to hack into her phone.
This conversation came after WP MP Leon Perera asked whether the Government uses spyware from Israeli company QuaDream. He also questioned if the government has deployed the spyware or other spying technologies in Singapore.
Desmond Tan responded first
PAP’s Desmond Tan first responded to Leon by saying that he cannot confirm nor deny “for obvious reasons”. He says that this is a matter of national security, but he admits that sometimes agencies need to “harness technology”.
“To this end, agencies charged with the mission of safeguarding national security necessarily have to rely on a range of intelligence capabilities, including harnessing technology.”Desmond Tan
After that, Desmond suggested that Sylvia make a police report if she has any concerns about her iPhone.
Shanmugam not satisfied with the Q&A
When Shanmugam stepped up to talk, he faulted Sylvia for her intention “to publicize the fact rather than actually get to the bottom of it” by raising it in parliament. He says if she really wanted to “get to the bottom of it” she would report to the police instead.
He then confirms that the government has not hacked Sylvia’s phone from the time she first raised the issue in parliament.
“I can tell Ms Lim that her phone has not been hacked by Singapore state agencies in the time available between when she raised it in parliament and now.”Shanmugam
Note that he does not talk about the past or the future. He also says he will not confirm nor deny whether the government uses spyware in general.