ICT Update: April 25, 2019

ICT Update | April 25, 2019
Authors: Shay Wester, Ella Duangkaew, David Mineo

Singapore Introduces Anti-Fake News Legislation

On April 1, Singapore’s Parliament introduced a first draft of the “Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill” (text found here.) According to the Ministry of Law, the legislation is meant to “ensure online falsehoods do not drown out authentic speech and ideas, and undermine democratic processes and society.” The law includes provisions such as:

  • Requirement that social media companies take responsibility for the content on their platforms, and publish “warnings” or corrections if the government deems any content posted on the platforms to be false or able to harm public interest in the country
    • The Ministry of Law states that this would be the primary response to misinformation, rather than removal of the content
    • However, according to previous statements by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the law will require online platforms to remove certain content before “irreparable damage is done”
  • Imposition of fines on non-compliant companies of to $1 million SGD (about $740,000 USD) and 10 years in prison, and up to $100,000 SGD (about $74,000 USD) per day if it is a continuing offense
  • Imposition of fines of up to $50,000 SGD (about $36,930 USD) for individuals found to be spreading “online falsehoods with an intent to harm public interest,” or who are using commercial services or bots to spread falsehoods.
    • The Ministry of Law states that these criminal sanctions would be imposed upon “malicious actors” looking to “undermine society”
  • Provision that the government would “cut off profits” for a site that has published “three falsehoods over six months”, though the law does not fully describe how the government would do this.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the bill is likely to pass in the coming weeks due to its support by current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s People’s Action Party, which holds a “supermajority” in Parliament. Despite its support in Parliament, the law has drawn concern from outside stakeholders, particularly industry players and human rights groups. These groups in particular are concerned that the law is overly broad, grants overreaching powers to the Singaporean government that may infringe on freedom of speech—particularly by granting government officials with the power and discretion to decide what is true versus false, and thus what needs to be blocked or taken down—and has vague definitions—such as the definition of “public interest” that may potentially be used to target government critics. If passed in its current form, this would be surprisingly prescriptive legislation for a country well-known for its enabling economic policy environment, which has made it a hub for many major technology companies’ Asia-Pacific headquarters.

The development of anti-fake news legislation is a growing trend in the region. The Philippines and Malaysia both tabled proposals for such legislation in Parliament last year, though both proposals were dismissed. Thailand’s Computer Crimes Act (most recently amended in 2017) criminalizes the spread of fake information online, and several other countries in the region, such as Cambodia and Indonesia, are actively developing, or considering developing similar legislation. If Singapore, whose policies have historically been more flexible and business-enabling compared to its neighbors, passes such strict legislation, it may set a concerning precedence for the development of anti-fake news laws in the region. 

Thailand National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission Drops Plan to Impose Surcharge on OTT Services

On April 10, the Secretary-General of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), Takorn Tantasith, announced that Thailand will not impose a surcharge on over-the-top (OTT) service providers. According to the Bangkok Post, Secretary-General Takorn planned to submit a motion in favor of the surcharge during the August ASEAN Telecommunications and Information Technology Senior Officials and ASEAN Telecommunications Regulators Council (TELSOM-ATRC) 2nd Leaders’ Retreat Meeting in Bangkok. The surcharge would have forced service providers that exceed a certain threshold of OTT bandwidth to pay a usage fee to international internet gateway (IIG) operators. It is unclear what the specified threshold was, though Secretary-General Takorn confirmed that it was based on traffic volume and was a progressive rate system. Smaller OTTs would have been exempt from the surcharge.

Secretary-General Takorn notes that the surcharge was intended to ensure fairness toward telecom operators responsible for creating the network infrastructure and would have provided an alternative to stricter regulatory frameworks advanced by certain ASEAN members that submit OTT providers to registration and taxation. Nevertheless, Secretary-General Takorn admits the plan was not well received by the public, who labeled the plan impractical and believed the surcharge would not only impose additional costs to consumers but also interfere with the growth and development of Thailand’s digital economy.

It is reassuring that the government of Thailand is considering industry and public feedback as it develops a regulatory framework to govern its digital economy. Adopting industry best practices that do not undermine innovation will be critical for the region as Thailand leads ASEAN digital integration in its role as Chair for 2019.


Vietnam OTT Regulations Submission

On April 25, the Council submitted comments to the Ministry of Information and Communications on the latest version of the draft Decree to Amend Decree 06/2016 (OTT regulation). Please contact Vu Tu Thanh (tvu@usasean.org) and Ella Duangkaew (eduangkaew@usasean.org) with any questions, or for a copy of the submission. 

Singapore Converged Code Industry Submission

The Council has prepared its third and final draft industry submission on Singapore's Proposed Converged Competition Code for Media and Telecommunication Markets ("Converged Code"). Please contact Ella Duangkaew (eduangkaew@usasean.org) for a copy of the submission, or for any questions. Please provide any feedback by COB Monday, May 6 SGT to Ella Duangkaew. Following the May 6 deadline for review, the Council will transmit the final submission on or around May 10.

Focus on fostering innovation ecosystem
70 learn digital approaches in construction, heritage building conservation

5G to Go Live in Indonesia October 2019
Indonesia Scores 2nd Slowest Internet Connection Speed in SE Asia
Minister Rudiantara Confirms KPU Bombarded by Hoax Attacks
Number of start-ups projected to grow 20-30 percent this year, Bekraf says
Govt urged to form task force to block phony news portals

Tech talk high on PM’s agenda
Gobind: Spectrum award mechanism to be reviewed
Gobind: Internet connectivity may be listed as a utility
Prisons Dept studying use of AI to strengthen security
Dr M: Malaysia able to leverage 5G within next three years
Digital dialogue focuses on growing Malaysia's digital economy inclusively
Govt may consider computer programming schools
PIKOM welcomes 6 per cent digital tax
Manufacturing segment to benefit the most from 5G

Tower sharing business limited to 10 firms – DICT
PSE moves forward with tech firm plans
Philippines, South Korea to pursue free trade agreement
NPC cautions offices on personal data protection issues during Holy Week 2019
PH Internet speed improves significantly
Why Cryptocurrency Is Gaining in Philippines Despite 2018 Bitcoin Crash

High-level data security committee holds first meeting
Student develops algorithm to detect fake news under young defence scientists programme
Academics reject MOE's assurances on fake news Bill, want assurances reflected in the legislation
Draft law on online falsehoods will not affect academic work, regardless of viewpoint: MOE
Biggest mistake is to do nothing about disruptive technology, says Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon
Legislation essential to tackling spread of fake news to manipulate opinions, elections: PM Lee
Singapore's cyber security chief says international norms, partnerships are key issues
Data breaches won’t derail Singapore’s tech push: minister
Singapore companies must take innovation and technology seriously, says Heng Swee Heat
Singapore 5th out of 6 Asean countries in growth of mobile payments use: PwC survey
Singapore wins top international award for AI governance/ethics initiatives

Novel R&D ministry 80% ready
Over Bt130 bn eyed for new ‘innovation ministry’
ETDA building local e-commerce platform for B2C market
Revenue Department seeks more authority
Spectrum deal still OK: NBTC
Keeping up with cybercrimes
Digital TV channels to unplug
Prayut extends fee payments for mobile operators

Việt Nam to improve cyber security
Project approved to boost information technology use in ethnic minority areas
Vietnam’s growth rate in internet services to soar
Da Nang planning to get smart by 2030
APEC workshop seeks to enhance digital literacy in women, girls
Survey reveals firms remain inactive amid Industry 4.0

Focus on fostering innovation ecosystem Borneo Bulletin Online 25th Apr 2019
Business start-up programmes at DARe (Darussalam Enterprise), intellectual property (IP) protection in Brunei Darussalam, and a local solar company’s journey in patenting their products were among the topics discussed at the ‘Industry 4.0: Convergence of Innovation’ executive seminar held at Lecture Theatre 2 of Universiti Teknologi Brunei’s (UTB) Library Complex yesterday. The seminar was held in conjunction with the Crown Prince CIPTA Award 2019. The guest of honour was Brunei LNG Sdn Bhd Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Patrice Girard. Acting Vice-Chancellor of UTB Haji Ady Syarmin bin Haji Md Taib was also present.

70 learn digital approaches in construction, heritage building conservation Borneo Bulletin Online 19th Apr 2019
A total of 70 participants comprising Institution of Surveyors, Engineers and Architects (PUJA) Brunei members and government officers attended the second Continuous Professional Development (CPD) event organised by PUJA Academy Sdn Bhd for April at the Atria Simpur Hall, Public Works Department Headquarters in Berakas yesterday. Held with the support of the Ministry of Development (MoD), the course aimed to promote Building Information Modelling (BIM) Technology and its significance in construction and heritage building conservation. The event was divided into two sessions with two different lectures presented in the morning and afternoon sessions.


5G to Go Live in Indonesia October 2019 Tempo 24th Apr 2019
Indonesia will tap the fifth generation of internet network frequency 5G after the World Radiocommunication Conferences (WRC) that is slated to take place in Egypt, October 2019. “The conference that is held every four years decides a frequency band of a technology. We are waiting for WRC event,” said Director General of Resources and Equipment of Post and Information Technology (SDPPI), Ismail, when met in Qualcomm Forum in Jakarta, Tuesday, April 23. The Communication and Informatics Ministry (Kominfo) planned to make use of the existing 3.5Ghz middle band frequency for satellite, and that will be consolidated to 5G network. “We will set 3.5 networks to be used in satellite, and so 5G can be utilized together,” Ismail explained.

Indonesia Scores 2nd Slowest Internet Connection Speed in SE Asia Tempo 24th Apr 2019
An analysis by discount code portal CupoNation Indonesia found that Indonesia ranks low in Southeast Asian countries in terms of fiber optic internet connection speed, which heavily depends on a country’s infrastructure, geography, and many more elements. According to its study, Singapore is the only country in the region that offers fiber optic internet connection with the speed up to 2 gigabytes per second (Gbps) and tops the list. The second country with the fastest internet connection in Southeast Asia is Malaysia with the speed up to 1 Gbps, followed by the Philippines with similar performance.

Minister Rudiantara Confirms KPU Bombarded by Hoax Attacks Tempo 21st Apr 2019
Communication and Informatics Minister Rudiantara confirmed that the General Election Commission (KPU) had been on the receiving end of several hoax attacks or fake news pertaining to the 2019 election. "Despite the election having concluded, we identified that hoaxes relating to the presidential election are still rampant," Minister Rudiantara remarked during an interview by reporters at the KPU Office in Central Jakarta on Saturday. He noted that the data was observed after drawing a comparison between the initial 17 days in March 2019 and the same period in April 2019. The cases of circulation of hoaxes were most rife in April.

Number of start-ups projected to grow 20-30 percent this year, Bekraf says The Jakarta Post 16th Apr 2019
The Creative Economy Agency (Bekraf) has projected 20-30 percent growth in the number of start-ups in Indonesia as they are supported by high demand for digital solutions in business, industry, bureaucracy and in other sectors. “Many problems require digital solutions that can be offered by start-ups. The penetration of the internet in Indonesia is also high,” said Bekraf non-banking access director Syaifullah Agam on Monday as quoted by kontan.co.id. He said the high growth of start-ups was also supported by the large middle-income population in Indonesia, which was projected to reach 140 million in 2020.

Govt urged to form task force to block phony news portals The Jakarta Post 11th Apr 2019
The Press Council has urged the Communications and Information Ministry to set up a special task force authorized to take down all uncertified news portals before the elections next week. The idea was first propounded by the ministry’s Applications and Information Directorate General in 2017. It is expected to block all websites claiming to be news portals, but failing to declare their company name, company structure, legal entity and address, as per the 1999 Press Law and the 2018 Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law.


Tech talk high on PM’s agenda The Star Online 25th Apr 2019
Technology, innovation and artificial intelligence (AI) are among the main focus of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s five-day work­ing visit.The Malaysian Prime Minister, who has been pushing for the country’s advancement in technology, will visit telecommunications giant Huawei. “He will be meeting senior executives to discuss cooperation between Malaysia and the world’s biggest telecom equipment maker.

Gobind: Spectrum award mechanism to be reviewed The Malaysian Reserve 24th Apr 2019
The government via the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia is looking at different options and proposals to determine the method of spectrum allocation to telecommunication companies (telcos), amid the impending announcement on the much-awaited 700MHz spectrum award. Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo said the ministry will study and relook at the way the spectrum is awarded to ensure that allocations are rightfully assigned, while allowing full transparency on the whole process. “My ministry is working on this. I will have to present it to the Cabinet because it involves a huge amount of money, before any decision is made,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) recently.

Gobind: Internet connectivity may be listed as a utility The Star Online 23rd Apr 2019
The Communi­cations and Multimedia Ministry is in the process of proposing that Internet connectivity be listed as a utility, as in water and power supply.Its minister Gobind Singh Deo said the proposal was part of the effort to expand Internet connectivity access nationwide. “I am in the process of proposing to the government that we can create a policy for Internet connectivity to become a utility, meaning it will be given the same emphasis as water and electricity. “We must accept the fact that the world will progress with the help of the Internet. That’s why the government is taking proactive steps in ensuring Internet access is available to all Malaysians, regardless of where they are,’’ he said in a special interview at his office in Wisma Angkasapuri yesterday.

Prisons Dept studying use of AI to strengthen security The Star Online 22nd Apr 2019
The Malaysian Prisons Department is studying the use of an artificial intelligence (AI) system to strengthen the prison security system. The AI is a system that is capable of thinking for itself through machine learning and was created to enable computers to perform some tasks better than humans. However, Prisons director-general Datuk Seri Zulkifli Omar said the matter was still being studied.

Dr M: Malaysia able to leverage 5G within next three years The Star Online 18th Apr 2019
Malaysia should be able to leverage on 5G technology within the next three years and catapult the national economy towards strong and sustainable growth, says the Prime Minister. Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said, however, this is only possible if all stakeholders get aboard the 5G agenda together with the government. “I am confident, that if we make the necessary preparations to usher this transformational technology, Malaysia should be able to leverage 5G within the next three years, enabling the country to punch above its own weight and catapulting the national economy towards strong and sustainable growth.

Digital dialogue focuses on growing Malaysia's digital economy inclusively The Star 17th Apr 2019
The first forum under the Digital Native Agenda 23 (DNA23) initiative championed by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim isn't just about growing Malaysia’s digital economy, but also doing so in an inclusive manner. Held on Wednesday (April 17) at Sunway University, the Digital Dialogue Series forum was attended by nearly 300 participants, including Anwar and famed American entrepreneur Mitch Kapor. The participants heard from academic startup Genius Plaza CEO Ana Roca-Castro, entrepreneur and investor Ganesh Bangah, bitcoin startup NEM Malaysia CEO Jasmine Ng, and Digital Durian CEO Sinan Ismail as they shared lessons and anecdotes about digital entrepreneurship. He shared the story of how his initial foray into animated content faced a lot of rejection when he was marketing it to traditional broadcasters, but became a massive hit after he noticed a gap in the online market. "I did a Google keyword search and found a lot of people looking for ‘lagu kanak-kanak’ (children’s songs), but there was nobody delivering it.

Govt may consider computer programming schools The Star 17th Apr 2019
Malaysia could soon have schools focused on computer programming, says Communicat­ions and Multimedia Minister Gob­ind Singh Deo. He said a pilot project would determine the viability of building and developing computer programming schools, where students can focus solely on learning computer programming. “But this is only a test run that we’re going to do,” he told reporters after meeting participants of the Digital Ninja Programme here yesterday. He said there were such schools in other parts of the world, such as in France. Gobind said that he discussed with Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik on the possibility of opening these schools, as syllabus and education come under the Education Ministry. He hoped plans could take off by the end of the year in Kuala Lumpur and Penang.

PIKOM welcomes 6 per cent digital tax New Straits Times 15th Apr 2019
PIKOM, the National ICT Association of Malaysia, is supportive of the Malaysian government’s stance to impose a 6 per cent digital tax on foreign service providers as of January 1, 2020. “The digital tax creates a level playing field for local players,” said PIKOM chairman Ganesh Kumar Bangah of the 6 per cent that will be imposed on imported online services, including software, music, video and digital advertising. “Under the current tax regime, business-to-business sales are already covered. However, foreign business to local consumer sales, in particular for digital goods and services are not taxed. “Hence this is the ‘hole’ that the government is trying to plug and to level the playing field among local and foreign companies, as well as between online and offline service providers,” he explained. Other countries like Singapore, New Zealand, Australia Taiwan, Norway, South Africa, Japan already have such taxes or rulings on imported digital related transactions. New Zealand, Russia and Norway are currently imposing relatively higher taxes – at 15%, 18% and 25% respectively.

Manufacturing segment to benefit the most from 5G New Straits Times 15th Apr 2019
The manufacturing segment will benefit the most once the government rolls out an integrated 5G network, according to Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Dr Ong Kian Ming. “5G isn’t just about faster speeds but it is also has the capability to connect to even more devices and to support new applications that could impact businesses,” Ong said during his visit to China’s Huawei Global Training Centre (MGTC) and ahead of the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission-hosted 5G showcase, to be held in Putrajaya on April 18. “The manufacturing segment would benefit greatly with higher speed as more and more are opting for automation and using Big Data Analytics,” he added. Ong said therefore, establishments like Huawei’s MGTC is important as it positions Malaysia as a prominent training hub for ICT technologies and talent development. “MGTC, Huawei’s first training centre outside of China, is a good example of Malaysia’s close trade and investment ties with China. Huawei has over 2,500 employees of which over two-thirds are Malaysians,” he said.


Tower sharing business limited to 10 firms – DICT The Manila Times Online 22nd Apr 2019
Only 10 players will be allowed to enter the country’s tower sharing business, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) recently said. While the government continues to ink memorandum of understanding (MoU) and entertain potential tower providers, the market will be limited to only 10 companies, acting DICT chief Eliseo Rio Jr. said. Once tower companies (towercos) secure a business transaction with a telco carrier, the DICT will sign a memorandum of agreement under which it will provide support in terms of facilitating government approvals.

PSE moves forward with tech firm plans The Manila Times Online 19th Apr 2019
The Philippine Stock Exchange’s (PSE) plan to establish technology-focused subsidiary has moved forward with the bourse earlier this month inking a shareholders’ agreement setting “forth the terms and conditions with respect to the management” of the IT firm. The deal, the PSE said in an April 5 disclosure, was inked with a certain Mark Joya. It did not provide more details. The bourse in January had announced that its board had approved a firm “for the purpose of providing information technology services and developing software solutions.”

Philippines, South Korea to pursue free trade agreement Rappler 18th Apr 2019
The Philippines and South Korea, formally the Republic of Korea (ROK), have agreed to pursue a free trade agreement (FTA) in a bid to improve economic relations, according to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). In a statement on Wednesday, April 17, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said both countries "agreed to put their best effort to conclude the negotiations" by November 2019, just in time for the ROK-ASEAN Commemorative Summit. The Philippines and South Korea will also celebrate the 70th anniversary of their diplomatic ties that same month. In a separate message to reporters Wednesday night, Lopez said that they aim to have greater market access for agriculture exports, as well as better collaboration on trade and investments in technology, such as electric vehicles and electronics. "[This] FTA hopes to be future-oriented, that will differentiate this with other FTAs," Lopez added.

NPC cautions offices on personal data protection issues during Holy Week 2019 Manila Bulletin 17th Apr 2019
The National Privacy Commission (NPC) is reminding public and private offices to be extra vigilant against hackers and data thieves this Lenten break. Privacy Commissioner Raymund Enriquez Liboro said Personal Information Controllers (PICs), Personal Information Processors (PIPs), and Data Protection Officers should ensure personal information under their organization’s care are safeguarded from potential cybersecurity attacks, the likelihood of which may increase during long holidays. “Digital and physical break-ins are more likely to occur during long breaks when there’s minimal staffing in offices,” Liboro warned. “The use of passwords is essential in protecting personal information from malicious intentions. One precaution that PICs, PIPs, and DPOs should do during the long break is password protect or encrypt files and databases on servers, computers, and other devices in their organization. If necessary, change passwords.”

PH Internet speed improves significantly Manila Bulletin 17th Apr 2019
The country’s Internet speed has significantly improved, according to the latest OOKLA’s Speedtest Global Index. The Philippines’ average download speed for fixed broadband improved 143.74% from 7.91Mbps in July 2016 to 19.28 Mbps in February 2019. On the other hand, the country’s average download mobile broadband speed also improved by 94.35% from 7.44Mbps in July 2016 to 14.46Mbps in February 2019. Overall, the Philippines’ Internet speed placed twenty-ninth for fixed broadband and 33rd for mobile out of fifty Asian countries. Out of forty-six Asia Pacific countries, the average download speed of the Philippines ranked twenty-first for fixed broadband and twenty-third for mobile. Among the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the average download speed for fixed broadband of the Philippines registered faster than that of Brunei, Indonesia, Cambodia and Myanmar’s. For mobile speed, the Philippines came out faster than Cambodia and Indonesia.

Why Cryptocurrency Is Gaining in Philippines Despite 2018 Bitcoin Crash VOA 12th Apr 2019
Cryptocurrency exchanges are growing in the Philippines, despite a downturn last year in the value of the virtual currencies, due to growing popular demand and lenience among regulators. Authorities in the developing Southeast Asian country have permitted at least 29 exchanges of cryptocurrency following three that the central bank said it approved this week, according to domestic media reports. That count, which is high for Asia, follows a total of 10 exchanges permitted by the central bank. The Cagayan Economic Zone Authority in the archipelago's far north has issued 19 additional permits, the zone's website said in October. These exchanges feed into the development of a fast-growing financial technology, or fintech, sector in the Philippines, said Jonathan Ravelas, chief market strategist with Banco de Oro UniBank in Metro Manila.


High-level data security committee holds first meeting The Straits Times 18th Apr 2019
A high-level committee tasked to review and strengthen data security practices across the entire public service held its first meeting on Thursday (April 18). The Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO) said the 10-member committee is chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who is also Coordinating Minister for National Security and Minister-in-charge of Public Sector Data Governance. The committee reviewed past data incidents and discussed the approaches adopted by other jurisdictions.

Student develops algorithm to detect fake news under young defence scientists programme The Straits Times 18th Apr 2019
To tackle the problem of fake news, student Liu Haohui hopes the algorithm she has developed could help verify the reliability of news stories. Using machine learning, the algorithm can correctly predict whether an article is real or fake with a success rate of more than 90 per cent - comparable with other detectors used in the United States. She tested it against local fake news articles, such as the one which attributed fabricated comments to Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam to solicit bitcoin investments last year, as well others from traditional news outlets.

Academics reject MOE's assurances on fake news Bill, want assurances reflected in the legislation The Straits Times 13th Apr 2019
A group of academics has said it cannot accept the Ministry of Education's (MOE) assurances that the proposed law against online falsehoods will not affect their work. The 83 academics from around the world, including Singaporeans based at home and overseas, made clear in a press statement on Saturday (April 13) that they wanted the assurances to be reflected in the draft legislation. "We note its assurances that the proposed law will not affect academic work. But we cannot accept this as a categorical guarantee until it is reflected in the language of the Bill."

Draft law on online falsehoods will not affect academic work, regardless of viewpoint: MOE The Straits Times 12th Apr 2019
Singapore's draft law to curb the spread of online falsehoods does not restrict opinion, and will not affect academic research work, said the Ministry of Education (MOE), in response to concerns raised by a group of academics. In a statement on Friday (April 12), the MOE, referring to the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill, said: "The Bill covers verifiably false statements of fact which affect public interest. The Bill does not restrict opinion and will not affect academic research work. "This is true regardless of what view the work presents."

Biggest mistake is to do nothing about disruptive technology, says Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon The Straits Times 25th Apr 2019
Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon has urged the legal profession to seize the moment and be at the front line of technological change, warning that the "biggest mistake" would be to do nothing. Setting out the rapid tech-triggered developments that affect both industry players and regulators, he gave several examples in diverse areas to underline his call for unified action. "There are many reasons that might tempt us to turn away from the change but, as these examples show, surrendering our fates in this way will only take us closer to undesirable outcomes - the obsolescence of our skills, the irrelevance of what we provide and the descent into ethical black holes," he said on Thursday (April 25).

Legislation essential to tackling spread of fake news to manipulate opinions, elections: PM Lee The Straits Times 25th Apr 2019
Legislation is an essential part of the solution to the spread of fake news by malevolent actors who set out to manipulate opinions and influence elections, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Thursday (April 25). To this end, Singapore's Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill will hold online platforms accountable and empower the Government to issue correction orders when false statements of fact are published, he added. Take-down orders will be issued in serious cases, the prime minister said to participants of the Inter-Pacific Bar Association Meeting and Conference held at Raffles City Convention Centre.

Singapore's cyber security chief says international norms, partnerships are key issues The Straits Times 23rd Apr 2019
Cybersecurity is an existential issue for Singapore, Mr David Koh, chief executive of the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore told the eighth annual International Conference on Cyber Engagement (ICCE) in a keynote address in Washington on April 23. As a small, connected city-state, Singapore was committed to the rules-based international order and all the more so for cyberspace, he added. The United Nations remained the best body to evolve the rules, he told the conference hosted by the Atlantic Council's Scowcroft Centre among others.

Data breaches won’t derail Singapore’s tech push: minister The Star Online 22nd Apr 2019
Recent data breaches, including one where details of HIV patients were leaked, won’t hold back Singapore’s efforts in testing and investing in the latest technology to build what it termed as a “Smart Nation”. “We cannot go back to pen and paper,” said Vivian Balakrishnan, the Singapore minister tasked with transforming the city-state into a Smart Nation. “If people lose confidence in the integrity and security of the system, then all these aspirations cannot be fulfilled.”

Singapore companies must take innovation and technology seriously, says Heng Swee Heat CNA 18th Apr 2019
Singapore companies must respond quickly to the changing business environment while also taking innovation and technology seriously, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Heat on Wednesday (Apr 17). He was speaking at the two-day Bridge Forum CEO Summit in San Francisco, organised by the Economic Development Board (EDB) and GIC, which manages Singapore's foreign reserves. The forum connects their partners in Asia with networks and business leaders in Silicon Valley to discuss the subject of tech disruption. When asked by the session’s moderator, EDB managing director Chng Kai Fong, what Singapore can do better in, Mr Heng said: “I hope that our companies take innovation and technology seriously.” He added: “The speed of technological changes, the speed that others are changing business models means that if you don’t change, you’re going to be left behind. So it’s quite critical, first and foremost, that our companies are really going out to all these changes quickly.”

Singapore 5th out of 6 Asean countries in growth of mobile payments use: PwC survey The Business Times 17th Apr 2019
SINGAPORE came in fifth out of six South-east Asian countries for growth in mobile payments use, while Vietnam tops the table both regionally and globally, according to PwC's Global Consumer Insights Survey 2019. Use of mobile payments in Singapore climbed 12 percentage points from 34 per cent of consumers surveyed in 2018 to 46 per cent in 2019. "Since the government began driving the way for digital payments in late 2017, this signifies a payoff in the efforts by the government and other mobile payments players," said PwC. Vietnam's mobile payments usage growth increased from 37 per cent to 61 per cent, up 24 percentage points.

Singapore wins top international award for AI governance/ethics initiatives The Independent Singapore 11th Apr 2019
Singapore’s initiatives in Artificial Intelligence (AI) Governance and Ethics won the top award at the prestigious World Summit in Geneva, Switzerland, 9 April 2019.  The country won in the “Ethical Dimensions of the Information Society” category, beating four other finalists across the globe. “The Advisory Council congratulates Singapore’s win. This award affirms Singapore’s balanced and pragmatic approach towards AI governance. We look forward to working further with the Singapore Government in forming strong guidance which enables innovation while protecting consumer interests,” Mr. V K Rajah SC, Chairman of the Advisory Council on the Ethical Use of AI and Data said with triumph. In like manner, Minister for Communications and Information Mr. S Iswaran remarked, “Singapore’s win of the WSIS Award is affirmation of our approach that AI practices must be transparent, explainable and fair. “These are important principles that will guide businesses in implementing AI solutions that are human-centric, while spurring innovation in a digital economy.”


Novel R&D ministry 80% ready Bangkok Post 25th Apr 2019
A new ministry overseeing R&D and innovation is expected to open this June. Yesterday, Udom Kachintorn, the deputy education minister, reported on the progress of the new ministry to the cabinet. The Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation Ministry is 80% complete and set to commence immediately once the law governing it goes into effect. Mr Udom said the National Legislative Assembly endorsed 10 related laws for the new ministry on March 25. The government expects those 10 laws to be published in the Royal Gazette this June. If the laws are published in May, the government may need to appoint an acting minister to helm the new ministry.

Over Bt130 bn eyed for new ‘innovation ministry’ The Nation 25th Apr 2019
THE GOVERNMENT is expected to allocate at least Bt130 billion per year for the new ministry of higher education, research and innovation. The draft law for the establishment of this ministry, which will combine the Ministry of Science and Technology with several other agencies, including the Office of Higher Education Commission (Ohec), has already sailed through the National Legislative Assembly (NLA).  The bill should be royally endorsed by June 25, or within 90 days of the NLA giving it the green light.  “We are in the process of discussing the funds for this new ministry with the Budget Bureau,” Deputy Education Minister Udom Kachintorn said yesterday.  According to him, the new ministry should get no less than Bt130 billion a year for normal operations plus additional funds for research and development. 

ETDA building local e-commerce platform for B2C market Bangkok Post 24th Apr 2019
The Electronic Transactions Development Agency (ETDA) plans to invest 1 billion baht through strategic partners to build a local e-commerce platform to compete with global giants like Alibaba and JD.com. The move aims to create more local opportunities in Thailand's burgeoning e-commerce sector, expected to be worth 3.3 trillion baht in 2019, growing 14% year-on-year. The ETDA has partnered with the National Innovation Agency (NIA) for the first time to help local tech startups serve local e-commerce operators.

Revenue Department seeks more authority Bangkok Post 23rd Apr 2019
The Revenue Department must be allowed to request information from business operators to prevent avoidance of a levy on foreign-based online platform operators earning income in Thailand, says its chief. Without the authority to ask for information, tax collection will be inefficient and could lead to tax leakage, said director-general Ekniti Nitithanprapas. Such a mandate helps several countries such as South Korea and Australia successfully collect e-business taxes. A draft bill on e-business tax is now being deliberated by the Council of State and the Revenue Department will propose it to the new finance minister.

Spectrum deal still OK: NBTC Bangkok Post 18th Apr 2019
Despite criticism of the regime's invocation of Section 44 to ease the financial burden of telecom and digital TV operators, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) says the planned allocation of 700-megahertz spectrum licences for the major three mobile operators in June would generate at least 75 billion baht for the state. Critics say helping the digital TV operators will cost the state 32 billion baht in money which could otherwise have stayed in state coffers, while the package of measures unveiled under a Section 44 order to help the three mobile phone operators will cost another 24 billion baht. Together that's a total bill to the state of 56 billion baht, which is still less than the proceeds from the new auction to be held in June.

Keeping up with cybercrimes Bangkok Post 15th Apr 2019
One of the country's top cybercrime busters, Pol Col Siriwat Deephor, said that while there are enough laws in place to deal with crime and other nefarious activities on the internet, there is a lack of tech-savvy police officers who are adequately trained to deal with high-tech crimes. As the deputy commander of the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD), Pol Col Siriwat is responsible for overseeing investigations into cybercrime cases. While he is known for his relentless battle against the trade of child pornography by online criminal gangs, recently he has been focusing on groups that specialise in creating and distributing fake information through social media, which is increasingly being used by certain groups and/or individuals to undermine their political rivals. Pol Col Siriwat was a student of Class 33 in the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School, and a graduate of the Royal Police Cadet Academy. He then obtained a master's degree and a doctorate in criminology from Mahidol University. He was starting out as an officer at a police station in Nonthaburi, when he began to develop an interest in computer sciences and technology -- an interest that served him well and defined his career path.

Digital TV channels to unplug Bangkok Post 12th Apr 2019
Four or five digital TV operators plan to return their operating licences and go off the air after the government's decision on Thursday to invoke Section 44, which allows all existing digital TV operators to exit the segment without having to pay the remaining licence payments or face any additional financial penalties. The government will waive the remaining two terms of licence payments for all digital TV operators, as well as subsidise rental fees for broadcasting networks (MUX) for the remaining nine years of the digital TV licences. Takorn Tantasith, secretary-general of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), insisted that a reasonable reserve price for the planned 700-megahertz licence auction in June is necessary to attract prospective bidders and facilitate 5G adoption in the country. "The reserve price for the 700MHz licence auction will be based on the real value of the spectrum range, not the winning prices of previous auctions, as the 900MHz auction prices ended up being too high," Mr Takorn said. "The NBTC is thankful for the government's decision, as it directly resolves the existing deadlock in terms of both digital TV operators' financial burden and telecom operators' burden for 900MHz licence payments. "Section 44 clears the burden for both industries."

Prayut extends fee payments for mobile operators Bangkok Post 11th Apr 2019
Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has been criticised for using his special powers to effectively extend the 900MHz annual licence-fee payment terms for three major mobile phone operators by five years. The order, based on Section 44 of the interim constitution and published in the Royal Gazette on Thursday taking effect immediately, instructed the Office of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) to change the payment plans to 10 annual instalments, starting from the years the operators received their licences. Up until now, they were to pay the fees in four yearly instalments, ending in 2020-21 (see chart below). The order benefited Advanced Info Service (AIS), True Move H Universal Communication (TUC) and Total Access Communication (DTAC) through its subsidiary DTAC Trinet. AIS and TUC were required to pay their last term worth 60 billion baht each in 2020. DTAC Trinet must pay the last 30-billion-baht instalment in 2021. The order aimed to give the operators an incentive to bid for 700MHz and 2600MHz spectra for the development of 5G communication services. Earlier, the companies claimed they would not be able to join the 5G auction because of the burden.  But critics say the order was not necessary since the operators are profitable and could afford to pay the fees by the original schedules.


Việt Nam to improve cyber security vietnamnews.vn 18th Apr 2019
Việt Nam will declare a national digital strategy this year to set up a digital economy and society, said Minister of Information and Communications Nguyễn Mạnh Hùng at a cybersecurity conference on Wednesday in Hà Nội. Hùng said cybersecurity was a prerequisite for a successful national transition to a digital society. It created a safe environment for the Government, enterprises and people to use digital technology, he said.

Project approved to boost information technology use in ethnic minority areas Voice of Vietnam 17th Apr 2019
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has approved a project on boosting the application of information technology to support socio-economic development and security in areas inhabited by ethnic minority groups during 2019-2025. The project aims to establish an electronic system to provide ethnic minority people with information on the Party and State’s policies and laws, scientific-technological knowledge and other issues. The system will be gradually connected with information portals of ministries, agencies and local administrations. Digital technology will be used to preserve the fine cultural heritage of ethnic minority groups, with the goal of 80 percent of information on traditional ethnic festivals and customs digitalized. The database on ethnic work will be upgraded to serve both State management and ethnic people. One important task set by the project is to build a database on ethnic minority groups focusing on their history, culture, festivals and customs, traditional products and geography of their residential areas.

Vietnam’s growth rate in internet services to soar Voice of Vietnam 16th Apr 2019
The high rate of technology adoption in Vietnam presents vast opportunities for growth, according to Le Hong Minh, co-founder, chairman and CEO of technology company VNG Corporation. In the field of mobile payments, for example, Minh said that by demand alone, “five years from now, Vietnam could have 40 million transactions per year, 40 times the current capacity of the banking system”. However, "Vietnam still faces challenges to fully exploit this opportunity," he said at the Vietnam Internet Ecosystem Forum held recently in Singapore. “Vietnam lacks people who really understand and are fully committed to this tremendous change,” Minh said. As a result, businesses still lag behind consumers in technology adoption. Minh said that to bridge this gap in human resources, one of VNG’s goals is “to excite talented people to work in the technology industry in Vietnam, in whatever capacity they can.” Based on his extensive research of Vietnam’s macro-economic development, Dr. Vu Minh Khuong of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore expressed optimism about Vietnam’s economic performance, but stressed the importance of strategic reform and digital transformation to sustain that growth, especially in the current global economic climate.

Da Nang planning to get smart by 2030 Voice of Vietnam 12th Apr 2019
Da Nang is planning to become a ‘smart city’ and the first in Vietnam to join the ASEAN ‘smart’ city network by 2030. Director of the city’s IT Department Nguyen Quang Thanh said at the launch of the city’s plan towards 2030 with a vision to 2045 on April 11 that it would be built in three phases with total investment of 2.14 trillion VND (95 million USD), of which 30 percent would come from the State budget. Thanh said the city had approved the framework the plan in 2018 with information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure and database. It will include smart management, smart economy, smart environment, smart living, smart citizens and smart traffic to connect the city to the 126 ASEAN ‘smart city’ network, Thanh said. “The plan will help develop Da Nang as a ‘start-up and innovative’ city in creating a driving force for socio-economic growth for the central region of Vietnam.” Da Nang was the first city in Vietnam to launch an e-Government system in 2014, and transferred the system to 16 cities and provinces in 2016.

APEC workshop seeks to enhance digital literacy in women, girls Voice of Vietnam 12th Apr 2019
An Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) workshop was held in the northern province of Quang Ninh on April 12 to seek ways to advance inclusive development through enhancing women and girls’ digital literacy and related skills in the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son said APEC has been contributing effectively to efforts towards gender equality. Its members consider female contribution a key solution to promoting sustainable and inclusive development to maintain dynamism and diversity in the region. He noted that in a digitalised world where 90 percent of future jobs require digital skills, equal access to technology and learning opportunities are a prerequisite for ensuring that women and girls benefit from Industry 4.0. This is also a critical measure to improve women’s economic empowerment for the sake of sustainable development. One of the key tasks now is training and re-training women and girls to equip them with technological knowledge and digital skills, enabling them to make full use of development opportunities in the 21st century.

Survey reveals firms remain inactive amid Industry 4.0 Voice of Vietnam 12th Apr 2019
Only half the queried enterprises have acknowledged that Industry 4.0 has been putting impacts on their operations and will do so, a recent survey has revealed. The results of a recent survey by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) point out that only 22 per cent of the questioned businesses in Vietnam said that Industry 4.0 has been affecting them while 32.7 per cent believed Industry 4.0 has yet to yield any impact on their business, but may do in the future. The VCCI survey indicates only 6.6 per cent of the domestically-invested firms held that they have sufficient resources to shift from their current out-of-date operating system to a cutting-edge one in the future. Meanwhile, 34.6 per cent of the surveyed enterprises said they will make step-by-step changes due to a lack of resources. Up to 27.5 per cent revealed they are in the process of mobilizing capital and resources for impending changes while 31.1 per cent admitted that they have so far done nothing to keep up with the Industry 4.0 trend.