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Securing Singapore’s Digital Future

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The Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) is leading the Online Trust and Safety (OTS) Research Programme as part of the Singapore Government’s efforts to build local capabilities to address new forms of online harm such as misinformation and content manipulation.

MCI will steer the programme’s direction and monitor its progress. The OTS programme is a S$20 million initiative funded by Singapore’s Research, Innovation, and Enterprise 2025 Plan’s Smart Nation & Digital Economy domain. It will run from 2023 to 2028.

The Agency for Science, Technology, and Research (A*STAR) will host the Centre for Advanced Technologies in Online Safety (CATOS) as part of the OTS programme. CATOS aims to bring together expertise from research partners, businesses, and practitioners in Singapore’s online trust and safety sector to create a vibrant ecosystem for a safer Internet.

CATOS will be officially launched at the inaugural OTS forum, which will feature international OTS expert speakers and showcase the first version of CATOS OTS technology solutions for trial and adoption in the first half of 2024.

To strengthen Singapore’s technological leadership in online trust and safety, CATOS will concentrate on developing and customising tools to a) Identify potentially harmful content, such as deep fakes and false claims; b) Identify societal vulnerabilities and create potential interventions (such as misinformation flagging or correction) that could reduce Internet users’ susceptibility to harmful online content; and c) Put “Trust by Design” technologies like watermarking and content authentication to the test.

Since April 2023, CATOS has begun conversations with local researchers, technology developers, and industry to raise awareness of the challenges and opportunities in online trust and safety.

CATOS has established a professional OTS community network with over 100 participants from academia, industry, and government agencies through its various workshops and seminar events. CATOS’ work has so far involved more than 30 professionals, including scientists, engineers, operations staff, and adjunct members.

To strengthen research collaboration and knowledge exchange, CATOS draws on the multidisciplinary research capabilities of academic experts from local and global research institutes. MCI hopes to leverage CATOS as an effective platform to tap into local and global capabilities to more effectively address online harms and threats through the collaboration of various partners and the exchange of expertise.

In Singapore’s digital economy, the Online Trust and Safety Research Programme, coupled with the Centre for Advanced Technologies in Online Safety, brings forth significant advantages. These initiatives play a pivotal role in fortifying the nation’s cybersecurity landscape by proactively researching and implementing advanced technologies for online safety.

By staying ahead of emerging cyber threats, the programmes contribute to safeguarding digital assets, sensitive information, and critical infrastructure, fostering a secure environment for businesses and individuals engaged in the digital ecosystem.

Additionally, the Centre for Advanced Technologies serves as a focal point for technological innovation in online safety, encouraging the development of cutting-edge solutions that not only enhance security but also contribute to the overall growth and competitiveness of Singapore’s digital economy. Likewise, these initiatives go beyond the national scope, positioning Singapore as a global leader in cybersecurity.

The investment in advanced research and technologies attracts international businesses and collaborations, further enhancing the country’s reputation in the global digital landscape. The programmes also play a vital role in developing a skilled workforce, ensuring that Singapore has the human capital necessary to navigate the evolving challenges and opportunities in the digital field.


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