MP Derrick Goh’s speeches during the debates on MHA’s Budget
Effective justice for online harm
As the digital space grows, more and more Singaporeans young and old are going online as we should expect. Many are vulnerable and may not be equipped with sufficient digital literacy and participation in the digital space may expose them to tortious harms.
These group of vulnerable citizens could be exposed to bad actors online who may spread falsehoods about them, harass them or worse, damage their reputation online. These tortious harms affect people from young to old. In simpler language, many of us term this as cyberbullying or simply cyber harassment and specific cases like Doxxing where personal information is shared online to stir and facilitate harassment. Although the Government has moved quickly and substantially in this area by instituting Protection from Harassment Act and other related measures, these harms are still experienced by many. What other measures are MinLaw planning to help those affected by such harmful speech online to achieve quick and effective justice?
Strengthening protection against Online Scams
I raised the point in my speech on the Budget statement that the problem of scams is but a consequence of pursuing a digital economy. It is expected. However, the steep growth rate of 65% in scam cases where the majority of the top 10 scam types relates to online scams is deeply concerning.
Given this rising trend where over $200M has been siphoned across the top 10 categories, it is reasonable for our government to spend proportionately to mitigate this crime to (1) Protect our residents who are digitally vulnerable and (2) to also maintain the high trust levels in our government.
Can MHA share plans and clarify if more expenditures have been factored for the Ministry to acquire more digitally equipped investigators and capabilities to ensure our law enforcement and connected agencies are sufficiently resourced and fit for purpose?
My second point is about Strengthening Safeguards where at heart of the issue is the need to approach this holistically, across the digital ecosystem. Given the many digital hand-offs, we need a multi-layered, whole of nation approach where all commercial participants in the digital economy supported by sharper laws and regulations are needed to protect our Smart Nation. As the Government and Police cannot tackle this alone, what are the plans to work more with the relevant agencies and private sector participants apart from Banks, such as Telecos and e-commerce platforms to deal with this holistically? Given the understanding of online fraud crime typologies and root causes, would the Ministry consider roping in relevant private sector platforms who have higher scam incidents and profit from the online ecosystem to also step up and play their part in terms of fraud prevention and detection measures in the same way MAS is engaged with the Banking sector?
Lastly, there is a need to address the trend in the movement of funds derived from scams to outside Singapore. As such, will MHA increase cross jurisdictional cooperation with other neighbouring countries’ law enforcement agencies to come up with a more comprehensive plan to combat this problem and to help the victims recover their monies?
Watch the speech here.