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FICA, The Online Citizen and more

Singapore Internet Watch
Singapore Internet Watch
This round-up covers the responses to the Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Bill (or FICA), an update to our Singapore blocklist to include The Online Citizen, and other issues in Singapore’s digital politics:

Our Internet News Round-Up
Quarantine Orders and Telemedicine
Telemedicine Operators Stretched Thin: At least nine telemedicine operators have been brought in to reinforce the Ministry of Health’s handling of the growing number of COVID-19 patients recovering at home.
However, reports indicate that these platforms are being overwhelmed, with some patients having to wait an hour to see a doctor virtually.
“I feel sorry for the doctor who was obviously overwhelmed. He came across to me as disoriented… I didn’t want to take up resources so I didn’t contact him again during my home recovery…
"Even though we understand (telemedicine) to be a service for us, we got nothing out of it. No medication was offered even though I reported several symptoms.”
Quarantine Instructions Unclear: One designer used quarantine order notifications as a case study for the importance of UX writing. The extent to which these issues have been sorted since remains unclear, with some resorting to Telegram groups to understand next steps.
Business and Finance
Working Conditions of Gig Workers: A new advisory committee has been set up to examine the plight of gig workers, and has stated that it is not ruling out legislative changes to support gig workers. The committee has identified three priority areas:
  • retirement and housing adequacy
  • adequate financial protection in case of work injury
  • the gap in bargaining power between gig workers and the platforms they work for
Binance.com Bans Singapore Users: In response to regulatory standards imposed by the Monetary Authority Singapore, Binance is scaling back its global platform operations in Singapore. These restrictions do not apply to Binance Singapore.
DBS Digital Exchange: Meanwhile, DBS is pushing forward with ambitious plans for its new cryptocurrency trading platform, the DBS Digital Exchange. The Exchange “hopes to list at least half a dozen security tokens by end-2022”.
UOB and Digital Banking: UOB is investing more into its digital offerings, and will be launching a new version of its UOB Tmrw app in Q4 2021.
Crime and Security
Devious Licks: Two teens are under investigation for stealing street signs as part of a Tiktok challenge.
Cybersecurity Cooperation: The Ministry of Defence and the Singapore University of Technology and Design have signed a memorandum of understanding to work together on cybersecurity infrastructure, research and training.
Singapore and the UN
The Digital Divide: Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan urged the United Nations General Assembly to address the digital divide that has left 3.8 billion digitally disconnected.
LGBT Discrimination: Singapore has noted (did not support) many of the LGBTQ-related recommendations made by other UN member states. This recent Heckin Unicorn blog post explains the issue of LGBTQ representation and discrimination in the context of the media.
Resources
The Reuters Digital News Report 2021 for Singapore is out: Channel News Asia and Mothership dominate among online outlets in weekly use. The use of print media continues to decline, while the use of Facebook and Whatsapp for news has declined as well. Check out the full report here.
If you have suggestions for our round-up, do reach out to us at [email protected]! Read on for updates to our data projects and FICA. If you found this newsletter useful, forward or recommend it to your friends!
Dataset Updates
Blocklist Updated: After The Online Citizen’s class license was suspended by the IMDA, TOC took down its website and social media accounts.
  • Although this removal was done by TOC and not by IMDA, we have updated our blocklist to include these URLs as this was done as part of a deadline set by IMDA.
  • Notably, although IMDA controls licensing of media outlets in Singapore, TOC has functionally been made to cease its worldwide operations — the TOC website and social media channels are no longer accessible in any country.
Telegram Channels Updated: We have updated our list of Singapore telegram channels to include a new channel created by users to support each other through their quarantine orders.
Grace Yeoh
Never expected a story on this stupid virus to give me hope, but I spoke to COVID-positive cases and found a lovely Telegram group they set up amid lack of instruction from MOH. I am responsible for increasing the group size by 4x over the last 2 hours 🥲 https://t.co/BKm3xXcjGY
What is FICA?
Singapore Internet Watch joins 36 other civil society groups in endorsing the public petition calling for a Select Committee to be convened to carry out extensive public consultation, in place of passing the Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Bill (FICA).
FICA has been criticised by…
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Singapore Internet Watch
Singapore Internet Watch @SG_Internet

Singapore Internet Watch is a student-run group focusing on internet research. Our key focus areas include censorship, media regulation, misinformation and freedom of information.

We believe in the need for open data and transparency in studying contentious issues at the intersection of Singapore’s internet and society.

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