Scams, deepfakes, fake news and other online harms are rising globally. So Josephine Teo and Tan Kiat How are getting very real.


YOU KNOW the cases. Fake job offers. Bogus Taylor Swift tickets. Families and the elderly losing their life savings again and again. And you have likely seen a deepfake video in the past month or so — worry if you haven’t, it’s inevitable. 

Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo and Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Tan Kiat How are real about shielding Singaporeans from these online harms, though. They are supporting all Singaporeans, regardless of circumstance, to benefit from digitisation. 

So, Minister Teo announced a thorough suite of measures in Parliament today (Jan 10). These cover everything from telcos assisting vulnerable people with intellectual disabilities against predatory mobile plans to a new Standard for Secure Transactions via Mobile Applications (SSTMA). This SSTMA is a malware protection standard for local app developers — this includes everyone from the Life SG creators to the Cat Quest gamemakers — to follow. 

“In our physical world, we’re comfortable to let our loved ones walk freely down the street, trusting that they will have pleasant interactions with people and not have to look over their shoulders for threats. We trust there are norms which govern how we conduct ourselves and interact with one another. And we must aspire to bring this to an online space as well,” said SMS Tan, who like our other Ministers and MPs is working hard to come up with practical online solutions for Singaporeans.

Source: Tan Kiat How / Facebook 

Progressive, forward-thinking efforts for the digital frontier  

At, we are most excited for the upcoming Shared Responsibility Framework (SRF). This SRF does right by consumers in protecting customers from the global problem of phishing scams. It lets financial institutions, telcos and consumers share the burden of responsibility. Here, banks and telcos have direct accountability to their customers and have full liability if they do not perform duties such as having a scam filter for messages.  

“The SRF covers phishing scams because such scams were the main contributor to fraudulent transactions taking place without the customer’s knowledge and consent. When SRF was first designed, compared to the payout frameworks in other jurisdictions (which only impose obligations on banks) the SRF already holds a wider scope of entities accountable by including telcos. Duties are also specified to clearly hold banks and telcos accountable to the victims,” said Minister Teo. 

Source: Josephine Teo / Facebook 

We are also keen on the Government setting up the Centre for Advanced Technologies in Online Safety (CATOS). CATOS assembles cyber researchers, practitioners and industry to build tools for a safer internet — they will detect deepfakes and test “Trust by Design” technologies which authenticate content. This is the Government stopping the cyber threat upstream.   

So, for the now and future age of evolving online threats, these are progressive and forward-thinking efforts to keep Singaporeans shielded.  

Decisive action against the problem of scams — not populist pontificating 

These announcements by Minister Teo and SMS Tan came soon after members of the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Communications and Information put forth their Motion on developing an inclusive and safe digital society. These GPC members include MPs Tin Pei Ling (MacPherson SMC), Hany Soh (Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC), Sharael Taha (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC), Jessica Tan (East Coast GRC), and Alex Yam (Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC).

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Source: Tin Pei Ling, Hany Soh, Sharael Taha, Jessica Tan, Alex Yam / Facebook 

This was useful work by our MPs. Unlike from the Opposition, which preferred to stay on the sidelines and doomsay that Singaporeans now have a digital “crisis of confidence”. And not offering any real practical solutions. 

“I’m not sure what the purpose of describing this problem this way is. We do have a situation that we are dealing with, and we are taking it very seriously,” said Minister Teo, who spent most of her speech highlighting the many ways in which the Government is already fighting the global problem of online harms. 

These ways include the Anti-Scam Command and the Monetary Authority of Singapore leaning on banks to apply a goodwill framework for victims of scams. In fact, as Minister Teo shared, Singapore is widely regarded internationally as a leader in thought and action when battling the global problem of scams.  

“This is a bit like firefighters on the front line. You are trying always a means to firstly figure out what’s the terrain that you’re working with and trying to push back the fire. Not let it spread,” said Minister Teo. 

“And then we have a group of bystanders who you know, instead of praying for them, encouraging them, are saying to them “You should be doing this, you should be doing that”. Pontificating,” she added.  

So here, Minister Teo called for reason and unity against scams going forward.   

“Following this debate, whatever goes onto social media for the benefit of people who are not able to take part in this discussion, I hope that messages being put out by MPs don’t simply use very sensational, glaring headlines. I would very much appreciate if we can keep our efforts focused on the actual things that will make a difference,” she said.