The Prime Minister has set up a Public Sector Data Security Review Committee to conduct an extensive review of data security practices across the entire Public Service.
This includes all actions related to the collection and protection of citizens’ personal data by public sector agencies, as well as by vendors who handle personal data on behalf of the Government.
The Committee will be chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security, Mr Teo Chee Hean. Mr Teo Chee Hean is also the Minister-in-charge of Public Sector Data Governance. The Committee will include private sector representatives with expertise in data security and technology, as well as Ministers involved in Singapore’s Smart Nation efforts – Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Mr S Iswaran, Mr Chan Chun Sing, and Dr Janil Puthucheary.
Government review on how they are securing and protecting citizens’ data from end-to-end
The aim of the Committee is to review how the Government is securing and protecting citizens’ data from end-to-end, including the role of vendors and other authorised third parties. It will also recommend technical measures, processes and capabilities to improve the government’s protection of citizens’ data, and response to incidents as well as develop an action plan of immediate steps and longer term measures to implement the recommendations
The Committee will use the experience of international experts and industry professionals, from both the private and public sectors. The Committee will also be supported by an inter-agency taskforce formed by public officers across the Whole-of-Government.
Next step in government data security initiatives
The Government has progressively enhanced security measures to safeguard sensitive data over the last few years. These security measures have included the Internet Surfing Separation policy in 2016 and the disabling of USB ports from being accessed by unauthorised devices in 2017. The Government has also increased the number and types of internal IT audits, to check on agencies’ data access and data protection measures. In 2018, they introduced measures to detect and respond more quickly to cyber threats that target critical government databases.
Recent hacks in public sector databases have created urgency for a data security review
In a release by The Prime Ministers Office, it said that the “Government has acknowledged that recent data-related incidents have underlined the urgency to strengthen data security policies and practices in the public sector. “
While individual agencies are investigating and taking action on the specific incidents, this Committee will undertake a comprehensive review and incorporate industry and global best practices to strengthen data security across the public sector.
This review will help to ensure that all public sector agencies maintain the highest standards of data governance. The government has recognised that it is essential to uphold public confidence and deliver a high quality of public service to citizens through the use of data. The work of this Committee will complement the governments efforts towards achieving the Smart Nation vision.
The Public Sector Data Security Review Committee will submit its findings and recommendations to the Prime Minister by 30 November 2019.
Australia and Singapore yesterday signed a Digital Economy Agreement (DEA) to harness digital transformation and technology to expand trade and economic ties in the region. Australia’s Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham and Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing signed the DEA digitally via videoconference.
The SADEA is the second Digital Economy Agreement that Singapore has signed, following the signing of the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA) with Chile and New Zealand in June this year.
At a time of global uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the signing of the DEA demonstrates Australia and Singapore’s recognition of the value of digital trade in forging a path to a post-COVID economic recovery.
Mr Chan said, “The signing of the Singapore-Australia Digital Economy Agreement marks a milestone in the long standing and multi-faceted partnership between our two countries. The SADEA will facilitate digitalisation of trade processes and make it easier and more cost effective for Singapore companies to engage in cross border business activities with Australia.
“As COVID-19 forces businesses to consider innovative ways to reach customers and adapt to a new way of doing business, agreements like the SADEA will allow our companies to take advantage of opportunities in the digital economy and tap on new technologies to create new digital products and services.”
Singapore and Australia enjoy strong bilateral trade and investment flows and the SADEA builds on this foundation to enhance economic opportunities in the digital realm. With the SADEA, Singapore and Australia aim to create a seamless digital trading environment which is crucial for businesses during this COVID-19 pandemic.
Enhancing economic opportunities in the digital realm
It will also enable trusted cross-border data flows without unnecessary and costly requirements such as data localisation, while protecting consumers’ privacy and businesses’ proprietary information.
Australia and Singapore have agreed to set new rules to prevent unnecessary restrictions on the transfer and location of data, improved protection for software source code, and ensure compatibility between e-invoicing and e-payment frameworks.
Importantly, the DEA will also feature rules for enhanced business and consumer trust in digital trade and cooperation in creating a safe online environment, and protecting personal information and consumer rights.
The Digital Economy Agreement is further supported by MoUs on data innovation, artificial intelligence, trade facilitation, e-invoicing, e-certification for agricultural exports and imports, personal data protection and digital identity
The signing today follows the conclusion of negotiations by Prime Ministers Scott Morrison and Lee Hsien Loong on 23 March 2020. The DEA will now undergo Australian treaty-making processes, including tabling in Parliament and consideration by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties prior to ratification. When the DEA enters into force it will amend the Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement to replace the existing Electronic Commerce chapter with a new Digital Economy chapter.
PHOTO CREDIT: dfat.gov.au
In collaboration with GOVTECH
You won’t be needing one of those coveted National Day Parade tickets to experience Singapore’s birthday celebrations this year.
A reimagined parade will see popular segments taking place in the heartlands, with digital channels enabling Singaporeans to be a part of festivities from the comfort of their homes.
On our end, the GovTech team has been busy building an interactive map – so that Singaporeans will be able to better enjoy Singapore’s 55th birthday bash from the comfort of their homes.
Here’s how to use it to have the best national day possible. Or at least in theory.
Highlight 1: Fireworks, tanks, and flying men – check out where they are!
No NDP is complete without the parade. This year, the showcase this year will be dispersed around Singapore. Some of these perennial crowd-pleasers are:
- Heartland Fireworks Display
- Red Lion’s Landing Zones
- SAF’s Mobile Column featuring everyone’s favourite military and civil defence vehicles
The NDP2020 Interactive Map will be updated with the position of these elements so that you won’t miss the tanks as they rumble by your home or the fireworks display if you live near one of these 10 locations. The elite Red Lions will also be parachuting into the heartlands, so check out if your neighbourhood is one of the landing sites.
That aside, there are also quite a few fringe activities unique to this year’s celebrations. Use the map to see what’s near you. Some of these include:
Heritage and Culture light up. 10 national monuments and arts and cultural institutions will be illuminated in red and white. Great for pictures!
Museum and Heritage Institution Open House Weekends. Great opportunity to take stock of how far we’ve come – and inspiration for ideas on how to move forward.
The Flag of Unity. A massive display of over 10,000 Singapore flags. This one’s at Siloso beach, so technically, you won’t need our map for it. 😂
You can also post your birthday wish for Singapore on the map on 9th August 2020 (all the way till 10pm) and be part of the collective celebrations all over the country.
Highlight 2: Get your discounts
Every Singaporean loves a good bargain, and this year’s NDP discount booklet – featuring over 100 discounts – is going fully digital so there’s no more misplacing those coupons!
Choose discounts from a wide variety of categories such as food & beverages, grocery shopping, and local attractions like the Singapore Zoo and Sentosa.
(For those of you who have our Moments of Life app, you can also access the discount list there)
Highlight 3: Connect with fellow Singaporeans through your stories
2020 has been a year of unprecedented challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. A major component of this year’s NDP will capture the voices of Singaporeans coming together to overcome this hurdle.
Share your reflections on the impact these few months have had and express your thanks to the frontline and essential workers who are keeping Singapore ticking during these extraordinary times. These stories and messages of gratitude can be shared on Facebook or Instagram by using the #OurHeartForSG hashtag and tagging the NDPeeps accounts, or through the Our Heart For SG website.
Highlight 4: Get featured on the parade’s social media!
Your contribution doesn’t have to be in the form of words or photos. Break out your singing voice and record your rendition of any NDP song or even an original composition. Your entry just might be shared on the NDPeeps YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram pages.
If singing is not your thing, there’s also the Fly Our Flag video that will be played on August 9. To take part, follow the steps in this TikTok video to record your birthday wishes to Singapore.
Painting the HDB towns red (and white)
We know what you’re thinking: All these high-tech wizardry can’t make up for the fact that there’s no large-scale, mass gathering – the only way we’ve been doing NDP so far.
Well, we used to think the same about work and offices too. But one of the things we’ve learnt from this Covid-19 episode is that for many jobs, working from home can be as productive or even more so.
So give this digital-and-physical hybrid of an NDP to shine.
Who knows, we may have discovered a whole new way to party.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in Thailand enacting tight budgets, investment in IT and cybersecurity systems continues to grow.
This growth is driven by accelerated digital transformations and changes in cyber-attack patterns, according to a global cybersecurity service provider.
The firm’s Country Director for Thailand and Indochina stated that Thailand’s IT and cybersecurity spending is expected to continue to grow, even though businesses face limited budgets as they pivot towards digital transformation.
Firms’ priorities are technology to support employees working in flexible locations, the application of cloud services for scalability and the reduction of upfront investment, as well as cost savings.
Businesses could save costs by optimising existing systems and equipment to reduce maintenance costs.
The Country Director said the need for cloud security is underscored by the rise of cloud applications.
The government, for example, developed a contract-tracing app, Thai Chana, on the cloud for scalability.
The adoption of Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), a security framework for enabling secure and fast cloud use, is gathering pace to support remote work.
The first half of 2020 saw that cybersecurity spending predominantly concerned elements stipulated under the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), including e-signatures.
The PDPA was scheduled to take full effect in May 2020 after a one-year grace period. However, the government agreed to postpone the enforcement of most chapters of the legislation by another year to give the public and private sectors more time to get prepared as they cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Cloud services in Thailand are forecast to grow by 29% from 2018 to 2025, with the market value projected to reach 31.5 billion baht by 2025, based on the Digital Economy Promotion Agency’s forecast.
Cloud-native security (70%) was reported as the most commonly adopted cybersecurity solution in Thailand. Familiar tools such as anti-malware and antivirus software (61%) are still popular in the country, but software-defined wide area networks (60%) and SaaS application security (42%) have likewise become widely adopted.
As Thailand becomes the first-mover for 5G in ASEAN, 28% of the surveyed companies in Thailand have already ventured into 5G security for the Internet of Things (IoT).
75% of the surveyed companies in Thailand increased their cybersecurity budget from 2019 to 2020.
The survey is part of the firm’s recently released “State of Cybersecurity in ASEAN” report, which surveyed 400 respondents in Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines, 100 from each, during 6 to 10 February 2020.
Some 40% of the surveyed companies in Thailand reported allocating over half of their IT budget to cybersecurity.
This mainly stemmed from the sophistication of threats (75%), the need to upgrade existing frameworks to incorporate automation (69%) and the ability to deal with the growing volume of attacks (68%).
The firm is providing cybersecurity services for business customers with deferred payment to the year’s end, as firms are facing difficult times, as well as offering a leasing programme.
The Southeast Asia manager for Thailand and Indochina at the firm stated that ransomware is likely to continue as a threat, and social engineering is still a matter of concern as attackers aim to steal user accounts or credentials.
Cyber-attacks will also shift to IoT devices in line with the 5G roll-out.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the National Research Foundation (NRF) and the National University of Singapore (NUS) announced in a press release on 4th August 2020 that they will be setting up a research institute to develop deep capabilities supporting the demands of digital financial services in Asia.
The Asian Institute of Digital Finance (AIDF) will provide thought leadership and strengthen the ties between education, research and entrepreneurship in digital finance. The Institute aims to be running by the end of this year.
Professor Tan Eng Chye, NUS President, said, “FinTech is making a profound impact on financial services, and will continue to drive the transformation of the financial services industry in Singapore, which is an integral part of Singapore’s ambition to be a Smart Nation. NUS is deeply honoured to partner MAS and NRF to achieve the vision of AIDF – the first of its kind in Singapore and this region, which takes an integrative approach to education, research, innovation and business incubation. NUS’ thought leadership in digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, cloud computing, and data science makes us perfectly positioned to address the challenges of the digital economy in Singapore and other parts of the world.”
Asian Institute of Digital Finance to offer large range of FinTech subjects
Hosted at NUS, AIDF will offer a Master’s programme and award scholarships to top students to pursue research at the doctoral level, as well as train post-doctoral fellows in Digital Finance and FinTech. Through its education programme, the AIDF will build the FinTech leadership pipeline for Singapore and the wider region.
The AIDF faculty will bring together deep expertise in Finance, Technology and other disciplines that are critical to integrating financial services with technology. These include: Finance domain: Payments, Credit & Lending, Financial Advisory & Wealth, Management, Retail & Corporate banking and Financial Markets. Technology domains: Digital Architecture, Digital Platforms, Big Data, Distributed Technology, Tokenisation, Cloud Computing, UX/UI design, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.
Research will include AI, Machine learning and Next-Gen Financial Services
AIDF will pursue foundational and inter-disciplinary research projects covering fundamental digital infrastructure, performance optimisation of business processes, and advanced application development research on cyber, fraud and anti-money laundering challenges. The institute will also develop financial services to meet sustainability and
Potential areas of focus include: Digital Assets and Ledger Technology, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Digital Finance Platforms, Green Finance Technology and Next-Gen Financial Services on 5G networks.
Professor Low Teck Seng, NRF Chief Executive Officer, said: “AIDF will help build strong FinTech research capabilities in Singapore, and commercialise high-impact research ideas to deliver practical and innovative solutions for the market. It will leverage on NUS’ regional and global networks involving local and foreign universities and research institutes to generate and testbed FinTech solutions for the Asian markets. More importantly, AIDF will also groom next-generation FinTech leaders that will strengthen Singapore’s Smart Nation core.”
“Fincubator” programme will promote entrepreneurship
The regional research institute will also establish a unique “Fincubator” programme that will promote entrepreneurship and provide the support to drive transformation of ideas and projects by promising students and entrepreneurs into market-ready products and services.
Potential areas of focus include:Applied research for commercialisation, Incubation of financial solutions to solve unmet digital financial service needs of Asia, Industry collaboration to provide comprehensive mentorship to build marketready solutions and Strengthened linkages with investor community to spur research
Mr Ravi Menon, Managing Director, MAS, said, “AIDF will be an important addition to Singapore’s rich and vibrant FinTech ecosystem. Through applied research and active collaboration with industry, AIDF will help to build strong capabilities in digital finance and FinTech. Located in the heart of the fastest-growing digital finance market in the world, the Institute will facilitate the expansion of knowledge and skills among FinTech leaders in the region and support the digitalisation of economies in ASEAN and beyond.”
As Singapore prepares for the progressive opening up of their borders in the coming months, the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA), supported by the Home Team Science and Technology Agency (HTX), have announced in a release that they will be issuing electronic devices from 10 August 2020 to all returning Singapore Citizens, Singapore Permanent Residents and Long-Term Pass holders who will be serving their Stay-Home Notices (SHNs) at their residences or self-paid accommodation.
HTX has said that the electronic devices will help ICA enforce strict compliance with SHN requirements more effectively, and mitigate the risk of imported COVID-19 cases contributing to local transmission. Persons serving Stay Home Notices will be issued an electronic wristband, a gateway device and a user guide after their arrival at immigration clearance. Work Pass holders will be monitored by the Ministry of Manpower using a different monitoring device.
Easy-to-use Technology Aids Stay Home Notice Monitoring
The device needs to be activated once the person serving their Stay Home Notice reaches their place of residence or accommodation.
Activation is straightforward and easy. First step is to download the StayHome@SG application onto their mobile phone, then register their profile by providing the required information through the mobile application, in order to activate the wristband and gateway device.
They can then proceed to plug the gateway device into a power supply source and don the wristband for the entire 14-day SHN period.
During the SHN period, users are required to check their mobile application periodically for notifications from ICA, and acknowledge the notifications in a timely manner through the mobile application. Upon completion of the SHN, users will be informed either by ICA or via the StayHome@SG application to cut the wristband and uninstall the application from their mobile phone.
“We wanted a solution that offers ease of use to PSHNs, but also ensures users’ compliance to SHN. After weighing multiple technical and practical considerations for reliable, efficient and secure operations, we found this e-wristband, paired with an IoT gateway device, to be an effective, self-service solution,” said Deputy Director Seah Swee Leng from HTX’s Sense-making & Surveillance Centre of Expertise. He is part of the cross-departmental team, made up of officers from ICA and HTX that were tasked to source for and customise the solution.
How the Wearable Tech Works
This electronic wristband solution enables ICA to ensure that PSHNs comply with the SHN requirements. It comes equipped with sufficient battery life to last the entire 14-day SHN duration.
Electronic monitoring to ensure the PSHNs do not leave their place of residence/accommodation during the SHN period is done in the following ways:
Bluetooth Low Energy communication between the gateway device and the wristband will enable ICA to determine if the person is within acceptable range of the gateway device.The gateway device establishes its own connection to ICA, which is not dependent on external network access.
When the wristband is detected to be out of range of the gateway device, tampered with, cut or loosened; or when the gateway device is removed from the power supply – ICA will be alerted and will conduct follow-up investigations.
Data Protection is Maintained
All information sent from the wristband to the ICA’s servers is encrypted. At the end of the SHN period, all data collection pertaining to the PSHN will cease and the mobile application will be locked from further usage.
Information collected will be stored and secured in the government database. Data protection measures are in place to prevent data loss or theft, unauthorised access and undue disclosure.
PHOTO CREDIT: www.htx.gov.sg
OpenGov Asia hosted its third installment of its Virtual Breakfast Insight: Powering Smarter Data and Resilient Government with Advanced Analytics on 29th July 2020.
This audience comprised of senior digital executives from the Indonesian public sector. The session once again witnessed a 100% turnout with delegates from 16 different government agencies in attendance.
The session was opened by Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor- in- Chief at OpenGov Asia.
Mohit shared that the whole world came to a sudden shut down when the COVID – 19 hit us. Everyone was shocked and scared by the magnitude of its impact. However, governments didn’t get a chance to slow down.
In fact, they were the ones who kept nations going by ensuring all necessary services were provided as uninterrupted as possible.
During this process governments collected a lot of data about their citizens’ needs and requirements.
Mohit emphasised that it is imperative for the governments to extract relevant insights from this data to identify services that are more in demand than others and how to provide them.
Times like these, he stressed, require strong leadership. Leaders who can recover and respond to the current crisis and also plan for a better future.
He concluded his presentation by highlighting the importance of working with the right partners (both internal and external) who can help recognise the opportunity amid crisis and make the best of it.
Joseph Musolino, Global Sales & Strategy Consultant, Fraud and Security Intelligence for SAS shared his insights with the audience.
He began by sharing an interesting stat that 61% of the organisations in the last year picked Machine Learning and AI as the most significant tools for the next year.
Joseph then elaborated on the numerous challenges that organisations face in making AI and Analytics a part of their current working paradigm.
He then expounded on the various SAS Analytical capabilities that can help agencies and organisations overcome the afore mentioned challenges and adapt analytics tools quickly.
To validate this, he shared actual examples of the various areas where governments are deploying analytics in serving citizens better: customs, healthcare, taxation and judicial issues.
Dr. Ian Opperman, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Data Scientist, the New South Wales Data Centre took over to share his learnings on Data sharing during COVID-19.
He began by highlighting privacy concerns as the major issue when it comes to sharing data, especially between government organisations.
Ian further emphasised the importance of source and context in which the data is being analysed, i.e. data from open source or in a closed and controlled environment.
He shared an actual example of how his agency gained insights from open data sources during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ian also shared how powerful and useful insights were, if carefully extracted from various open data sources and shared with various concerned parties.
After Dr. Opperman’s presentation the session went into a more interactive time with the polling questions addressed to the audience.
On the question of the biggest impact of the COVID-19 had had on an organisation, a majority of the audience voted for increased demand for services with rising expectations from citizens (45%). Another major section voted for disrupted sectors looking to the government to provide innovative policies and processes (35%).
A senior executive from the Ministry of Health shared that there has been an increased demand from the government to transform digitally and serve citizens better. So the major focus and challenged has been digital transformation of the government.
On the next question of how the pandemic has changed the functioning of agencies / departments, delegates responded with several interesting reflections.
Pertinent to the topic of discussion, a majority of the audience were of the view that they have become dependent on data and analytics to make decisions (40%).
A delegate from the Ministry of Finance shared that he voted for the above option as a result of what he has personally experiences.
He elaborated that he is heavily involved in policy development to overcome the challenges during COVID-19. In so doing, he has realised that data is of paramount importance when it comes to making well informed decisions. And analytics is a powerful tool for drawing useful insights from data.
On the question, “have advanced analytics and AI become a higher priority for your organisation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic”, the audience was equally split between strongly agree (45%) and agree (45%).
A delegate from the Ministry of Education and Culture shared that there is an urgent need to make analytical tools a higher priority. During critical times like a pandemic, making the right choice of what is best for the citizens and students can be hard. Analytics can play a vital role in evaluating the various options and choosing the best out of them.
The session concluded with closing remarks by Febrianto Sibaro. He expressed his gratitude towards the delegates for attending the event and sharing their insights.
The delegates acknowledged that they gained a lot more information about data analytics and how it can improve their day to day workings in serving citizens better
The New Zealand government has launched a set of standards designed to act as a guideline for government agencies on how to use algorithms.
The new Algorithm Charter is the first of its type. According to New Zealand’s Minister of Statistics, the charter will help to improve data transparency and accountability.
The Algorithm charter for Aotearoa New Zealand demonstrates a commitment to ensuring New Zealanders have confidence in how government agencies use algorithms. The charter is one of many ways that government demonstrates transparency and accountability in the use of data.
This is most notably observed when algorithms are being used to process and interpret large amounts of data.
Using algorithms for data analysation and decision making is a risky task. The charter will help determine whether the algorithms are being used in a fair, ethical, and transparent way.
So far, 21 agencies have signed the charter. This includes the Department of corrections, Ministry of Education and the ministry for the environment.
In it, departments pledge to be publicly transparent about how decision-making is driven by algorithms, including giving “plain English” explanations; to make available information about the processes used and how data is stored unless forbidden by law
By signing the charter these agencies have agreed to commit a range of measures such as explaining how decisions are informed by the algorithms; making sure data is fit for purpose by managing and identifying biases, ensuring that privacy, ethics and human rights are maintained.
The development of the charter was recommended by the New Zealand government chief data steward and chief digital officer who said that safe and effective use of operational algorithms required more attention and greater consistency across the New Zealand government.
The recommendation was presented after a call made to the New Zealand government about how the government agencies were using algorithms to analyse data.
There were claims that the New Zealand government agencies were potentially using citizen data collected through the country’s visa application process.
This was done to determine those who were breeching their visa conditions by filtering people based on their age, ethnicity, and gender.
A former New Zealand Immigration minister originally rejected the idea, stating that immigration looks at a range of issues such as those who have made and have had rejected multiple visa applications.
He said that it looks at people who place the greatest burden on the health system, people who place the greatest burden on the criminal justice system and uses that data to prioritise those people.
It is important that the integrity of New Zealand’s immigration system is protected and that that immigration resources are used as effectively as possible.
Departments committed to the charter included New Zealand’s accident compensation scheme – which was criticised in 2017 for using algorithms to detect fraud among those on its books – and the corrections agency, which has deployed algorithms to determine an inmate’s risk of reoffending. The immigration agency, found in March to be profiling applicants by algorithm, is also a signatory.
The New Zealand government added that the algorithm charter would evolve and will be reviewed next in 12 months to make sure that it has achieved its intended purpose without creating unnecessary burden or halting progress.
Agencies must also consider te ao Māori, or Indigenous, worldviews on data collection and consult with groups affected by their equations. In New Zealand, Māori are disproportionately represented in the justice and prison system.