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September Internet News Round-Up; Privacy and Security Resources for Civil Society

Singapore Internet Watch
Singapore Internet Watch
This round-up covers issues ranging from crucial privacy/security resources for civil society, the Yale-NUS merger, and the latest use of POFMA. But first, our internet news round-up:

Our Internet News Round-Up
Law and Digital Politics
The new foreign interference law: A new Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Act has been introduced in Parliament. If passed, it will give the Singapore government the power to remove, change, or block “hostile” online information. As with POFMA, the bill’s impact on the shape of electronic communications will be noteworthy.
Sedition Act Repeal: The passage of more recent laws, such as POFMA has lessened the relevance of the Sedition Act, according to a bill introduced in Parliament to repeal it. However, with the Sedition Act’s repeal, the Criminal Procedure Code will be amended to make “ the deliberate wounding of any person’s religious or racial feelings” and “the promotion of disharmony” arrestable offences.
Crowdfunding for Damages to Singapore’s PM: The Online Citizen editor Terry Xu has been crowdfunding to pay for damages to PM Lee Hsien Loong, following 2 defamation lawsuits over TOC’s articles on the Lee siblings dispute.
Education
AI in Education: As part of Singapore’s National AI Strategy for education, MOE is exploring AI-enabled marking for English assignments and expects to integrate this into the Student Learning Space e-learning platform in 2 years.
Academic Freedom in Singapore: Academia.sg released their ground-breaking Academic Freedom Report. Check out this summary of key points from Yahoo Singapore: 78% of Singapore academics report at least ‘moderate’ interference: poll.
Yale-NUS Closure: read below for a compilation of recent analysis and commentary.
Business
Labour Protections for Platform Workers: Amidst a growing gig economy, PM Lee’s NDR speech addressed the precarity that platform workers face and acknowledged their need for better economic protections.
Manipulating Review Platforms: A Japanese restaurant in Singapore discovered that their negative online reviews it was receiving were actually their competitors trying to sabotage them
Security and Surveillance
Up to US$150,000 for Ethical Hackers: GovTech is launching a program to reward ethical hackers who find bugs and vulnerabilities in government websites and apps.
Autonomous Robots Patrolling the Heartland: This three week trial marks the first time “that an autonomous robot is being used to patrol and survey a public area with high foot traffic to enhance public health and safety”.
Foreign Affairs
Mandarin Media Coverage of China: A recent special issue of We The Citizens highlights key issues in Singapore’s Mandarin Media:
Given that Zaobao is the Mandarin broadsheet of record in Singapore, it—and the views it espouses—dominates the Mandarin-reading market in the country. The only serious newspaper available offers only one set of views, depriving Mandarin-reading Singaporeans of access to debates in the Sinosphere that are in fact much more nuanced.
In Other News: To provide an alternative to Chinese news media dominance, Taiwan is launching its own English-language international media platform.
Resources
Participatory Data Stewardship: The Ada Lovelace Institute has developed a framework for participatory data stewardship:
Throughout this report, we explore – using case studies and accompanying commentary – a range of mechanisms for achieving participatory decision-making around the design, development and use of data-driven systems and data-governance frameworks. This report provides evidence that involving people in the way data is used can support greater social and economic equity, and rebalance asymmetries of power.
Consultancy Role for Digital Rights in SEA: Digital Reach SEA is looking for a research consultant for their annual report on “Digital Authoritarianism in Southeast Asia”. Read about the vacancy here.
UPDATE: Due to the volume of important news relating to digital politics in Singapore, we will be releasing our internet round-up every two weeks instead of every month!
Dataset Updates
Singapore Internet Watch
POFMA update: POFMA has been invoked by @sporeMOH to require Facebook to display a correction notice to all Facebook users in Singapore.

This is over a statement circulating on FB alleging the deliberate non-reporting of a 3-year-old's death from COVID: https://t.co/sZQVwZGNoM
This is not the first time which POFMA has been used to require internet platforms to display a message to all users. We have updated the POFMA dataset to reflect the latest POFMA uses.
Digital Privacy / Security Resources for Civil Society
We’ve compiled a list of useful guides and resources!
Need a primer on digital privacy and security resources for civil society? Check out these essential guides and resources:
Does your organisation have a security policy?
  • Generate one with SOAP, a useful tool which not only provides an easy starting point for developing a security policy, but also poses important hypothetical situations for your organisation to consider.
Is there content that you want to archive and keep available for posterity? Try using these archive plugins:
Having difficulty over choosing which VPN to use for more private browsing? Unclear on the reasons for why you might want to use a VPN? Check out these articles:
Looking for more privacy-friendly communication tools?
Need guidance for emergency situations?
  • Try the Digital First Aid Kit — which contains guidance for situations such as “someone is impersonating me online” and “I have lost my data”.
Yale-NUS Merger
Yale-NUS’s unexpected and de facto shutdown has dominated headlines since the bombshell announcement on 27 August.
While official statements attribute fundraising difficulties and wider NUS strategic restructuring as reasons for its merger with the University Scholars Programme, these have been pointed out to be contradictory and unconvincing by a Straits Times op-ed by Yale-NUS alumni and in an Academia.SG article by Prof. Linda Lim and Prof. Pang Eng Fong. A cross-NUS collective of students have also put out a petition opposing the trend of “top down” administrative decisions in NUS.
Do also check out the recent Academia.SG panel discussing in depth the shut down, the role of liberal arts, and the fraught history of student activism and state control in Singapore.
New Law on Foreign Interference
We at Singapore Internet Watch will be studying the new law against foreign interference with great interest. If you have commentary, analysis or ideas for collaborative research — reach out to us via our contact form!
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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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