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Heightening Online Safety Awareness in Singapore

To commemorate its one-year anniversary of efforts to make the online environment safer for everyone, members of the Sunlight AfA or the Singapore Together Alliance for Action to tackle online attacks, especially those targeted at women and girls, gathered.

The Sunlight AfA, which was introduced by the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) in July 2021, aimed to close the gap in digital safety and create assistance systems for those who had been harmed online.

The 48 members of the AfA represented the public, private, and non-profit sectors. The Sunlight AfA also backs the national Digital for Life movement as a whole-of-society initiative.

Through its five main workstreams—public education, research, victim support, volunteerism and partnerships, and harbour engagement—it has produced worthwhile programmes and initiatives. The AfA has the following in the previous year:

  • Identified Singapore’s exposure to internet hazards and potential future research topics
  • Raised awareness of the dangers of the internet and digital safety
  • Enlisted and prepared people to aid those who had been harmed online
  • Enhanced the ecosystem’s capacity to react to online harms

The Sunlight AfA commissioned a sensing poll in January 2022 to gain a better understanding of the prevalence of internet harm as well as Singaporeans’ experiences and perceptions regarding the problem. This aided in the identification of pressing problems and the advancement of efforts to create a safer Internet for all parties involved, including government organisations.

The AfA created a roadmap to establish the research agenda for online harm to Singapore’s research community based on the sensing poll results. The roadmap aims to assist the community in planning research projects to enhance Singapore’s comprehension of online dynamics, develop potential responses, and evaluate their efficacy.

The Sunlight AfA also educates Singaporeans about online dangers and provides them with advice on how to stay safe when using the internet. To make it simple for people to access the information they need, the Sunlight AfA also created its website (www.sunlightafa.org), which includes a compiled list of online safety resources. These comprised details on tools and safety features for social media networks.

Additionally, Sunlight AfA holds focus group discussions (FGDs) with a variety of target populations, including students, young adults, parents, and educators, to learn about their perspectives on online safety, and any gaps in current public education campaigns aimed at preventing online harm, and potential solutions.

The results of the FGD will be used to establish a roadmap for education that includes suggestions for customised public education programmes that will teach participants how to evaluate media and how to respond to inappropriate content.

On 29 June 2022, Sunlight AfA’s Youth Engagement workstream held a prototype online harms workshop for students from higher education institutions to give them the foundational information they need to identify online damage and protect their peers.

The Victim Support workstream created a list of online harms identifiers, which describe various frequently experienced online harms. This list was created in response to the difficulties hotline staff found in identifying and interacting with victims of online harm. These serve as the building blocks for a potential helpline and would be helpful in assisting with the training of helpline staff following the AfA’s tenure.

Victim support collaborated with roughly 100 volunteer lawyers to provide pro bono legal assistance through legal clinics and strengthened the online ecosystem’s response capabilities.

Several Sunlight AfA members founded SG Her Empowerment Limited (SHE) to continue addressing internet harm. All initiative by the Sunlight AfA has resulted in providing MCI with valuable feedback on online harm.