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Introducing the Singapore Internet Watch

Singapore Internet Watch
Singapore Internet Watch
Introducing the Singapore Internet Watch
Singapore Internet Watch is a student-run group focusing on research at the intersection of Singapore’s internet and society. Our key focus areas include censorship, surveillance, and misinformation.
Our Work
We believe in the need for open data and transparency in studying contentious issues in Singapore internet studies. As a result, we are working on three ongoing dataset projects:
1️⃣ POFMA'ed: You may already be familiar with our POFMA'ed Dataset, which tracks every digital communication subject to Singapore’s law against ‘fake news’, the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA).
2️⃣ Singapore’s Blocklist: What websites are blocked in Singapore? This dataset compiles a continually updated list of these blocked sites.
3️⃣ Mapping Singapore’s Use of Telegram: How has Singapore’s use and engagement with Telegram changed over time? This project aims to create as comprehensive a directory of Singapore’s Telegram channels as possible, before analysing how this engagement has evolved over time.
Crowdsourcing Data
As our work covers contentious and evolving issues in Singapore’s internet and society, we invite citizen contributions and crowdsourced data to capture information we may have missed, such as:
  • Lesser-known websites that are blocked in Singapore
  • Telegram channels, particularly those covering contentious material (conspiracy theories, harassment) or political issues
If you are aware of any of these data points which are not currently included in our datasets, please reach out to us via our contact form.
Our Newsletter
Beyond providing updates on our research, our newsletter also provides a monthly round-up of news on Singapore’s media and politics. Read on to find out more about Singapore + Surveillance and Singapore + Data Protection.
For more regular updates, consider following us on Twitter (@SG_Internet)!
Singapore + Surveillance
Background: Much of the recent news coverage on the abuse of cyber-surveillance technology has been focused on the Israeli NSO Group. Reports highlight how the group’s Pegasus spyware was used to target politicians, human rights activists and journalists.
The News Story: Last month, Citizen Lab identified another secretive Israeli spyware vendor (Candiru), that sells exclusively to governments. A Microsoft investigation found at least 100 victims, some of them in Singapore.
The Link to Singapore: These findings on Candiru hit closer to home, with an Intelligence Online report noting that Candiru was active in soliciting business from Singapore’s intelligence services. A leaked Candiru project proposal paints a scary picture of Candiru’s spyware capabilities. > Read the full Citizen Lab analysis here
Singapore + Data Protection
The News Story: The Singapore government has released its Second Update on the Government’s Personal Data Protection Efforts. According to this update, the number of “data incidents” increased from 2019, though the severity of these incidents has decreased. New data protection initiatives have also been announced.
Indulekshmi
It is revealed in this report that there were 108 data incidents in 2020 & then recommends several measures, including strengthening punishment for SG govt officers and non-govt. The report is deafeningly silent on actual govt accountability #privacy

https://t.co/jadMyTMfX1
Our Analysis: As surveillance becomes increasingly pervasive in Singapore (see: number of police cameras to double to at least 200,000 by 2030; or the mandated yet vital use of TraceTogether and SafeEntry in our post-pandemic lives), it is easy to accept that the gradual erosion of privacy has become a necessity of life in Singapore.
However, privacy nihilism ignores the possible alternatives to systemic disempowerment over the use of one’s personal data. More comprehensive legal protections (like the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation) can be introduced, as well as more ambitious technical solutions to build trust and transparency.
A screenshot of Estonia's Data Tracker. The first column indicates when a citizen's personal data has been accessed, the second column indicates which government agency accessed it, and the last column indicates why.
A screenshot of Estonia's Data Tracker. The first column indicates when a citizen's personal data has been accessed, the second column indicates which government agency accessed it, and the last column indicates why.
One example is Estonia’s Data Tracker. Used by four of Estonia’s major government agencies, this tracker allows citizens to understand how their data is being used — by compiling a list of every time these agencies have accessed their data, and why. Such an initiative could bring greater accountability to Singapore’s “data incidents”, and build trust in digital government services.
In Other News
COVID-19
  • The latest online manifestation of Singapore’s anti-vaccine sentiment is a petition that has accumulated more than 11,000 signatures.
  • There are almost 10 million SafeEntry check-ins to premises across Singapore recorded every day.
Crime and Surveillance
Online Media
  • An award-winning and digital Hong Kong news outlet is relocating to Singapore, in the wake of the city’s new national security law.
  • New changes to Singapore’s Copyright Act have been proposed in parliament. ST has reported that artists welcome these new Copyright Act changes.
Business
  • The Monetary Authority of Singapore has signalled that it will grant licenses to several digital payments services providers, an important step for cryptocurrency firms in Singapore.
  • Four companies have confirmed plans to open up shop in the new Punggol Digital District — one of them is Boston Dynamics, the company known for their robotic dogs.
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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.

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive a round-up of the latest developments in Singapore’s media and politics, and updates on our work.

In order to unsubscribe, click here.
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