Singapore

Digital regulations needed to build trust so people, businesses have confidence participating in digital domain: Josephine Teo


SINGAPORE: There is a “growing international consensus” that digital regulations are needed to build trust, so folks and businesses proceed to have “a sense of confidence” participating in the digital area, stated Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo on Wednesday (Dec 1). 

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Mrs Teo was talking to reporters throughout a work journey to London, the place the Singapore Government signed three Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with the UK. These MOUs are in the areas of digital commerce facilitation, digital identities and cybersecurity. 

“The MOUs between Singapore and the UK will further support opportunities to grow the digital delivery of cross-border services between Singapore and the UK, provide a basis for working closely with like-minded digital partners, and help set a global benchmark on high standards for digital cooperation to bring economic and societal benefits to both countries,” stated the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI).

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Mrs Teo additionally participated in the Future Tech Forum, the place she met with key authorities and trade leaders to focus on Singapore’s strategy to digital regulations. 

DIGITAL REGULATION 

In each side of each day lives, there are some regulations to ensure that there’s security, Mrs Teo advised reporters.

“And so the same in the digital domain. People, citizens of every country will expect that someone is regulating the delivery of digital services to make sure that they don’t do individuals as well as society harm,” she stated. 

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“Of course online harm is just one aspect of it. But the new regulations are intended, at least at the start of the design process, to recognise the need to protect the users from online threats.” 

Mrs Teo stated that there was “an erosion of trust” in how digital applied sciences may be utilized. Digital regulations are “very much needed in order to build trust”, she stated.

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In response to questions on whether or not the Government plans to clamp down on massive tech firms, comparable to Facebook, Mrs Teo stated Singapore adopts a “collaborative approach”. 

“We’d like to bring them into the conversation. We’d like to involve them in designing the solutions for them. And so that’s going to be still the approach that we take. It does not mean, however, that when regulations are needed, we won’t go ahead with them,” she stated.

“But even in designing the interventions, whether it’s laws or updating our codes of practices, we would want to engage with all the companies, the representatives, including the tech giants, to understand how it will impact them or not impact them.” 

“ALWAYS A FINE BALANCE” 

At the discussion board, Mrs Teo additionally famous curiosity from different nations in how digital applied sciences have helped Singapore fight the unfold of COVID-19, however on the similar time, “how appropriate regulations were needed to give people the confidence that the technology is trusted and that it isn’t used against them”. 

For instance, members have been in “how POFMA (Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act) had been invoked several times” to tackle misinformation associated to COVID-19, comparable to falsehoods about vaccines, she stated. 

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Participants from different nations have been additionally in the TraceTogether app, she added.

“The fact that I shared that people were able to trust it enough to use it every day to perform check-ins. It intrigued other participants that the number of check-ins that are tracked on TraceTogether and SafeEntry exceeds 10 million every day. That’s something that’s quite interesting to them,” she stated. 

“They were very curious about Singaporeans’ acceptance of a tracking device, like what technology did we use in order to give people the assurance that it’s not a Big Brother watching them.”

When requested by reporters whether or not a legislation like POFMA is at odds with the Government’s “light touch” to regulations, Mrs Teo stated there should all the time be stability. 

She stated that “in essence, a law like POFMA says our society value truthfulness”.

“In public discourse, we can disagree with others, we can have different opinions, but they have to be grounded in facts. If public discourse is based on falsehoods, then I think we have a problem,” she stated. 

“Does it mean that as a result of upholding this value, each one of us has to be constrained in some way? The answer is yes. But does it prevent you from expressing your views (and) participating actively? I think even after POFMA has been enacted and put into effect, the kind of participation in the online space has not reduced. It has only gone up.”

When we take into consideration regulations, “it is always a fine balance”, she added. “It is about doing things not too early, not too late.”

“We do not rely solely on guidelines and regulations and legal guidelines, though we will definitely not keep away from them … When it comes to regulating the digital area as a result of it’s altering so quick, we can’t strategy it believing that we’ll get each piece of intervention proper the primary time.

“But at the same time, we must have the courage to stay the course if we think that what we’re doing is actually producing the results.” 

The want for stability means there’s “a lot of judgment involved”, stated Mrs Teo.

“And this judgment has to be grounded on our understanding of the technology … and an objective assessment of the impact on individuals and on society.” 


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