Posts Tagged ‘Internet’

Ukraine backs tough TV language rules to limit Russian

May 23, 2017


© AFP/File | Police officers on duty outside Ukraine’s parliament in Kiev on May 18, 2017

KIEV (AFP) – Ukraine’s parliament ratched up its cultural war against Russia on Tuesday by backing television language quotas requiring major channels to broadcast at least three-quarters of their programmes in the Ukrainian language.

The measure was passed a week after Ukraine blocked Russia’s most popular social media networks and a top internet search engine in a self-proclaimed effort to prevent Kremlin propaganda from reaching the crisis-torn former Soviet state.

Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada parliament passed the TV quotas bill by an overwhelming 269-15 margin.

“Once again, the Verkhovna Rada has demonstrated that it is a Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada, one eliminating the remnants of the Soviet imperialist past,” parliament speaker Andriy Parubiy said after the vote.

Most people in Ukraine speak both languages but Russian is used more often in the east while Ukrainian is preferred in the west.

Ukraine came under intense criticism from free speech advocates and domestic users for prohibiting the Russian equivalent of Facebook and other popular internet services and sites.

But nationalists and senior politicians saw it as a proper response to an information campaign that Russia is waging alongside the ground offensive it is backing in Ukraine’s separatist east.

The three-year conflict has killed more than 10,000 people and turned Moscow and Kiev into sworn foes.

Kiev has been gradually expanding its list of outlawed Russian goods and Russians barred from entering the country for either voicing support for the Kremlin’s March 2014 annexation of Crimea or the self-proclaimed independence of Ukraine’s separatist fiefdoms.

Numerous Russian television series and movies have already been thrown off the airwaves and banned at cinemas. Ukraine has also blocked the import and sale of some books.

Ukraine’s free speech and information policy committee chief Viktoriya Syumar said the bill she co-wrote was in complete agreement with existing European standards.

“Such laws exist in a number of European countries,” she told lawmakers.

“Totalitarianism only existed when Ukrainian was banned from use in our land,” she added in reference to the Soviet practise of forcing other republics to speak Russian.

“This law will work for Ukraine, for Ukrainian culture and for Ukrainian performers, actors, directors and everyone who respects their country,” she said.

The bill makes an allowance for local channels to only show half of their broadcasts in Ukrainian.

President Petro Poroshenko is expected to sign the measure because his parliamentary faction backed the bill.

The legislation is also expected to prompt an angry response from Russia.

Moscow has long accused Ukraine of persecuting its Russian speakers.

China’s Tencent beats estimates to post 55pc growth in first quarter revenue

May 17, 2017


By Zen Soo
South China Morning Post

Wednesday, May 17, 2017, 6:00pm

Chinese internet giant Tencent on Wednesday posted record-high revenues for the first quarter of the year on the back of a strong performance in mobile games.

Revenues soared 55 per cent to 49.6 billion yuan (US$7.2 billion), beating estimates of 46.4 billion yuan in a Bloomberg poll of analysts.

Tencent, the world’s largest video game company by revenue, also reported a 58 per cent jump in net profit to 14.5 billion yuan, beating projections of 13 billion yuan.

Its mobile game Honour of Kings, which was the top-grossing smartphone title in China last year, had over 50 million daily active users as of December 31. Tencent said it also plans to adapt hit novels and anime into mobile games that will be available to users on its social media platform WeChat and QQ.

Image may contain: 1 person, eyeglasses and closeup

Pony Ma, co-founder and president of Hong Kong-listed Tencent Holdings. Photo: Reuters

WeChat is currently the dominant social media platform in China, with over 937 million people using the app to message friends, order food online and even book taxis.

The Shenzhen-based company posted 6.89 billion yuan in online advertising revenues for the first quarter.

Tencent shares rose slightly on Wednesday, closing 0.39 per cent up at HK$259.80 on the Hong Kong stock exchange ahead of its earnings result. Its shares have gained 37 per cent this year, placing the stock’s growth just behind e-commerce rival Alibaba, whose New York-listed shares rose 41 per cent in the same period. Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.

Last June, Tencent spent US$8.6 billion to acquire up to an 84 per cent stake in Finnish mobile game developer Supercell.

Pony Ma Huateng, Tencent’s chairman and chief executive, said in March that the firm would invest heavily in cutting-edge technologies such as security, cloud, big data and artificial intelligence “to position us for the next wave of growth”.


May 15, 2017

Websites of several government agencies and private companies have been hacked in the recent past, so the news about a global cyber attack using a ransomware program called WannaCry should raise alarm bells.

The attack, which demanded ransom payments emailed by web link or attachment in 28 languages, hit 230,000 computers running Microsoft Windows in 99 countries when it was launched last Friday. WannaCry reportedly used an infection vector developed by the US National Security Agency. A kill switch was quickly found, but an updated version reportedly lacks the kill switch.

As news of the WannaCry attack spread, Philippine authorities reassured the public that cyber security measures were being stepped up. The government is also setting up a secure data center in Subic. Events in the recent past, however, have exposed the continuing high vulnerability of the country to cyber attacks.

Last year the vulnerability was exploited in laundering $81 million through two Philippine casinos and a commercial bank. The money was stolen by hackers, believed to be from North Korea, from the Bangladesh central bank’s account in the US Federal Reserve in New York. The cyber heist, still unsolved, prompted analysts to describe the Philippines as a “black hole” that could be exploited by cyber thieves and money launderers. The weakness in cyber security makes the country vulnerable to many other criminal activities that have been facilitated by the internet.

The country should not be lacking in tech-savvy individuals who can improve cyber security. Computer courses are among the most popular in the country, although many graduates are working overseas. In 2000, a Filipino computer graduate unleashed the “Love Bug” virus that wreaked havoc in at least 20 countries and caused losses estimated at up to $10 billion. Instead of using their skills for mischief, local techies can be tapped in fighting computer viruses and hackers. The WannaCry attack should give urgency to boosting cyber security.




Rigged Debates: Wikileaks Emails Confirm Media in Clinton’s Pocket


Global Decline in Press Freedom Also Hits China — “Robot journalists are leading the way and fully compliant with party controls”

May 3, 2017

By China Digital Times

’s newly released Freedom of the Press 2017 report found that there has been a drastic global decline in over the past year amid growing media threats in both democratic countries as well as authoritarian states. China remains “not free” in terms of its status, receiving a total score of 87 out of 100, with 100 being the least free. The following are key developments that have shaped the legal and political environment for the Chinese media in 2016:

  • Xi Jinping, the state president and leader of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), made high-profile visits in February to key state media outlets, where he called for all media to demonstrate strict adherence to the party line.
  • The government adopted a new cybersecurity law in November, and a series of other regulations that increased restrictions on internet communications, online publication, and video streaming were issued over the course of the year.
  • Authorities tightened control over news dissemination channels, including social media and mobile-phone applications, and suspended permission for websites to repost content from the prominent news site Caixin.
  • Although the total of 38 behind bars at year’s end represented a slight decrease compared with 2015, at least 111 , bloggers, online writers, activists, and members of religious or ethnic minorities were sentenced during 2016 to prison terms of up to 19 years for alleged offenses related to freedom of expression or access to information. [Source]

Full regional reports measuring levels of press independence will soon become available for Taiwan and Hong Kong. Media freedom in the latter has steadily deteriorated over the last several years as a result of growing pressure from Beijing and local authorities alike.

No automatic alt text available.

also released its 2017 World Press Freedom Index this week, ranking China as the world’s fifth-worst country for press freedom and the “leading prison for citizen journalists.” Hong Kong currently stands at 73 out of the 180 countries surveyed after moving down four spots on the ranking list. Meanwhile, Taiwan’s rating has improved markedly with the nation now occupying the 45th position, up six places from last year. Findings from the Index suggest that attacks on the press have become increasingly commonplace in today’s world. Growing suppression of media freedom has been especially prevalent in democracies, with countries such as the United States and Finland falling in the Index. Countries that have previously received low rankings have also registered declines in press freedom, with the media environment in Burundi, Egypt, and Bahrain now classified as “very bad.”

As a part of grim developments in the country, journalists in China could soon face financial penalties as the Chinese government makes plans to link journalists’ online postings with their credit rating. Yaqiu Wang reports for the :

The creation of China’s system of credit scoring, which will be implemented in stages, could result in scenarios in which journalists who write or speak critically of the government face direct, personal financial consequences. Those consequences could be life-altering: A journalist whose social media post is deemed a “rumor” by the government could see her credit score lowered, resulting in her being denied a loan or saddled with a high interest rate.

[…] In June 2014, the State Council, the administrator of the Chinese central government, issued a planning document that sets forth the creation of a nationwide “Social Credit System” to monitor and rate the “social credibility” of individuals, private companies, government agencies and non-governmental organizations based on information from various government agencies and private institutions. Such information could include criminal records, tax documents, employer evaluations, purchasing preferences and online activities. The document states that the system would evaluate the credit history and online activities of internet users and blacklist “individuals engaging in online swindles” and “rumormongering.” The document also calls for adopting “measures against subjects listed on black lists,” including restricting their online activities, barring sectoral access and reporting them to corresponding departments for exposure.

[…] Journalists told CPJ the online credit system is a significant concern because it represents a new way of linking a person’s speech with other aspects of their lives. Censorship in China already goes beyond the usual tactics of removing journalists’ and writers’ social media accounts, shutting down news websites, and jailing journalists; it also involves thwarting journalists’ other daily activities, denying them career opportunities and banishing them from mainstream social engagements. [Source]

Read more about China’s nascent social credit system in a CDT interview with Shazeda Ahmed. As a censorship tactic, the development of the social credit system can be seen as part of a larger trend in which state actors are increasingly making use of innovative ways to control information. Joel Simon at the Committee to Protect Journalists discusses three categories of strategies that various governments and non-state actors have developed in recent years to control and manage information.

Repression 2.0 is an update on the worst old-style tactics, from state censorship to the imprisonment of critics, with new information technologies including smartphones and social media producing a softening around the edges. Masked political control means a systematic effort to hide repressive actions by dressing them in the cloak of democratic norms. Governments might justify an internet crackdown by saying it is necessary to suppress hate speech and incitement to violence. They might cast the jailing of dozens of critical journalists as an essential element in the global fight against terror.

Finally, technology capture means using the same technologies that have spawned the global information explosion to stifle dissent, by monitoring and surveilling critics, blocking websites and using trolling to shout down critical voices. Most insidious of all is sowing confusion through propaganda and false news.

These strategies have contributed to an upsurge in killings and imprisonment of journalists around the world. In fact, at the end of 2016 there were 259 journalists in jail, the most ever documented by CPJ. Meanwhile, violent forces–from Islamic militants to drug cartels–have exploited new information technologies to bypass the media and communicate directly with the public, often using videos of graphic violence to send a message of ruthlessness and terror. [Source]

For academic scholars in China, speaking to foreign press is becoming increasingly costly as universities tighten relevant regulations discouraging such conduct. Te-Ping Chen at The Wall Street Journal Reports:

Wu Qiang, a former politics lecturer at Beijing’s prestigious Tsinghua university, said in an interview on Thursday that he was repeatedly scolded by university officials bearing printed-out copies of reports in which he was cited by foreign media. Mr. Wu said he eventually grew more cautious about granting interviews but continued to speak to foreign reporters. As a scholar, he said, “I’ve always felt the responsibility to do so.”

Mr. Wu, who first began his tenure at the university in 2009, said the university declined to renew his contract in 2015. While no reason was cited, he says, he believes it pertained both to his repeated interactions with foreign media and the nature of his research into social movements.

[…] Mr. Wu said he was never shown any written guidelines banning communication with foreign media. But other universities have recently posted regulations online requiring approval by school authorities before speaking to foreign media.

“When accepting interviews from foreign media,” one such notice advises, “you must earnestly work to prevent leaking secrets.” [Source]

At The New York Times, Beijing bureau chief Jane Perlez spoke of the ongoing technological challenges of reporting in China where the Great Firewall poses a constant hurdle to online information access. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Russia is now attempting to imitate China’s model of internet control with increased online censorship.

In addition to these developments in press freedom conditions, China Media Project’s David Bandurski writes that the media industry in China is also currently undergoing a millennial shift, one that is characterized by the “progressive loss of professional capacity” as the industry turns increasingly into a “rice bowl” profession for the young. Low pay and censorship are cited as the key factors driving away talent as old hands get pushed out of the industry and replaced by younger and less experienced journalists.

Many factors have driven an exodus of older talent from China’s media, from poor pay and the digital transformation of the industry — now hitting traditional Chinese media that for many years had seemed protected from the storms buffeting media elsewhere in the world — to the vagaries of censorship, which can sap the professional spirit. But the net effect of this shift is the progressive loss of professional journalism capacity in China’s media.

[…] Falling pay (relative to cost of living) and rising pressure mean the entire journalism profession is skewing younger in China. A 2016 survey by PR Newswireshowed that more than 80 percent of the “front-line journalists” reporting the news in China were born after 1985, meaning they were 30 years old or younger. By contrast, a survey of journalists in the U.S., conducted in 2013 by the School of Journalism at Indiana University, showed the median age had risen from 41 to 47 since 2002.

[…] Last month, the youthfulness of China’s journalists became a topic of renewed debate on social media in China after former FT China editor-in-chief Zhang Lifen (张力奋) said at the Bo’ao Forum for Asia Annual Conference that while the journalism profession anywhere in the world must rely on cumulative experience, journalists in China treat the job as a “young rice bowl” profession — in other words, as something to be endured only for a few years early in a career before one moves on to a job with real pay and a real future.

[…] The discussion inside China of the reasons for journalism’s flagging appeal among older — even just slightly older — professionals tends not to dwell on censorship, the elephant in the room. But the fact is that media controls, now more stringent and more effective than at any time in the past two decades, have a constraining effect on all aspects of the profession. [Source]

Meanwhile, The Guardian’s Tom Phillips reports that a new generation of international war correspondents has emerged in China as a result of the state media’s effort to expand its global reach.

Shixin Zhang, the author of a book on Chinese war correspondents, said China’s race to the front began a little over two decades ago when editors in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou began sending journalists to conflicts including the Gulf War and Kosovo.

In 2008 that race became a stampede after Beijing announced it would pump 20bn yuan (£2.3bn) into key state-media outlets such as Xinhua, CCTV, China Radio International and Communist party mouthpiece the People’s Daily in a bid “to get its message across to the outside world”. “The current struggle between East and West is mainly for the right to be heard,” Huang Youyi, the vice president of China International Publishing Group, said at the time.

Privately-owned newspapers and television channels have also joined the rush, hoping to boost ratings and sales. In 2011, dozens of reporters jetted into Libya to witness Colonel Gaddafi’s downfall, reputedly the largest Chinese contingent ever to cover a single conflict. [Source]

Also at The Guardian, Wang Zhen looks at what a day on the job is like for Yuan Wenyi, one of China’s few female war reporters.

The 36-year-old reporter remembers her action-packed debut as a conflict reporter as a “sheer delight”. But her first experience of war was almost her last.

[…] “Run! Run! Run!” she recalls screaming at the station’s cameraman, Li Yanjun, as a shell exploded not far from their filming position, sending them scrambling back towards their vehicle.

As they raced away from the action, bullets whizzing through the air, Yuan remembers worrying that the car might explode: “I felt so desperate … All the blood rushed up into my forehead. I totally lost my voice.”

[…] Female voices are still a rarity among China’s new generation of war correspondent. But Yuan said she hoped Chinese newsrooms would gradually shake off the outdated idea that war zones were for men. “Work is work – it’s just the same for me as for everybody else.” [Source]

Elsewhere, SupChina reports that Chinese state media Xinhua News Agency has debuted its first robot reporter in a live interview with Kevin Kelly of Wired magazine.


China tightens rules for online news providers

May 3, 2017


© AFP/File | Sites blocked due to their content or sensitivity, among them Facebook and Twitter, cannot be accessed in China without special software that allows users to bypass the strict controls

BEIJING (AFP) – China has issued new internet regulations increasing Communist party control over online news providers, the latest step in the country’s push to tighten its policing of the web.

The ruling party oversees a vast apparatus designed to censor online content deemed politically sensitive, maintaining that such measures are necessary for the protection of national security.

Sites blocked due to their content or sensitivity, among them Facebook and Twitter, cannot be accessed in China without special software that allows users to bypass the strict controls.

New regulations released by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) Tuesday will increase party control over who can publish what online, taking effect June 1.

All websites, apps, forums, blogs, microblogs, social media accounts, instant messaging and live streaming platforms and other entities that select or edit news will need a license to post reports or commentary about the government, economy, military, foreign affairs, and social issues, the CAC said.

Such online news service providers must “correctly guide public opinion” and “serve the cause of socialism” while “safeguarding national and public interests”, it said.

Business and editorial operations must be kept separate, and those who do not receive public funding will not be allowed to conduct original reporting, it added.

Staff at online outlets must undergo governmental training and assessment, and receive official accreditation, while top editors must be approved.

Additionally, no Chinese outlets may set up a joint venture with a foreign partner without undergoing a “security assessment” through the State Council Information Office.

Online news providers who fail to comply with the new regulations will have their licenses revoked and receive fines of up to 30,000 yuan ($4,352).

The new guidelines come after the passing of a controversial cybersecurity bill last November, which also tightened restrictions on online freedom of speech.

Paris-based monitoring group Reporters Without Borders last week ranked China as the fifth worst country in the world for press freedom, coming in 176th out of 180 countries, just one place ahead of war-torn Syria.

US consumers likely to lose privacy protections for their web browsing history

March 29, 2017

Congress voted to kill rules meant to prevent internet service providers from selling users’ web browsing histories and app storage histories to advertisers

By Olivia Solon

Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting and screen

Without these protections, ISPs are free to track your browsing behavior and sell that data to advertisers without consent. Photograph: Tolga Bozoglu/EPA

US politicians voted Tuesday to kill privacy rules meant to prevent internet service providers (ISPs) from selling users’ web browsing histories and app usage histories to advertisers.

The planned protections, proposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and scheduled to take effect by the end of 2017, would have forced ISPs to get people’s consent before hawking their data.

Republicans in the House of Representatives followed their colleagues in the Senate with a vote – of 215 to 205 – to approve a resolution that uses the Congressional Review Act to prevent the privacy rules from taking effect.

Without these protections, ISPs such as Comcast, Verizon and AT&T are free to track your browsing behavior and sell that data to advertisers without consent. This represents a huge treasure trove of personal data, including your health concerns, shopping habits and visits to porn sites. ISPs can find out where you bank, your political views and sexual orientation simply based on the websites you visit. The fact that you’re looking at a website at all can also reveal when you’re at home and when you’re not.

“Give me one good reason why Comcast should know what my mother’s medical problems are,” said congressman Mike Capuano during the hearing before the vote, explaining how he had researched her condition after a trip to the doctor. “Just last week I bought underwear on the internet. Why should you know what size I take? Or the color?”

“Consumers should be in control of their own information,” added congressman Jared Polis. “They shouldn’t be forced to sell it to who knows who simply for the price of admission to access the internet.”

Others argued that repealing the privacy rules would be anti-competitive and give more power to a handful of companies.

Democrat Ro Khanna pointed out that Americans already pay much more for broadband than Europeans thanks to “monopolistic, anti-competitive practices”.

“Instead of making the industry more competitive, what this bill wants to do is give these four or five ISPs even more power,” he said.

“These companies are not going broke,” Capuano added. “The internet is not in jeopardy.”

Those in favor of repealing the privacy rules argued that it levels the playing field for internet service providers who want to get into the advertising business like Google and Facebook. According to ISPs, scrapping the rules will allow them to show the user more relevant advertising and offers, which would give the companies better return on the investment they have made in infrastructure. They argue that web browsing history and app usage should not count as “sensitive” information.

Read the rest:


House votes to wipe away the FCC’s internet privacy protections which could lead to Internet providers being allowed to sell customer information

March 29, 2017

  • The House voted 215-205 Tuesday to reject a rule that would have given more control to consumers over how internet service providers share information
  • However, 15 Republicans sided with Democrats to keep the rule in place
  • Trump-appointed FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, wanted to roll back the broadband privacy rules

The House voted Tuesday to block online privacy regulations issued during the final months of the Obama administration, a first step toward allowing internet providers such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon to sell the browsing habits of their customers.

The Federal Communications Commission rule was designed to give consumers greater control over how internet service providers share information.

But critics said the rule would have added costs, stifled innovation and picked winners and losers among Internet companies.

Ajit Pai, Trump-appointed chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, is a critic of the broadband privacy rules

Ajit Pai, Trump-appointed chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, is a critic of the broadband privacy rules

The House voted 215-205 to reject the rule, and sent the legislation to President Donald Trump for his signature. The vote is part of an extensive effort that Republicans have undertaken to void an array of regulations issued during the final months of Democratic President’s tenure. But the vote was closer this time than previous rescind efforts, with 15 Republicans siding with Democrats in the effort to keep the rule in place.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the Republican-led effort was about putting profits over the privacy concerns of Americans.

‘Overwhelmingly, the American people do not agree with Republicans that this information should be sold, and it certainly should not be sold without your permission,’ Pelosi said. ‘Our broadband providers know deeply personal information about us and our families.’

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi advocated for this rule to be upheld for privacy concerns

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi advocated for this rule to be upheld for privacy concerns

Internet companies like Google don’t have to ask users’ permission before tracking what sites they visit. Republicans and industry groups have blasted that discrepancy, saying it was unfair and confusing for consumers.

But proponents of the privacy measure argued that the company that sells you your internet connection can see even more about consumers, such as every website they visit and whom they exchange emails with.

Undoing the FCC regulation leaves people’s online information in a murky area. Experts say federal law still requires broadband providers to protect customer information – but it doesn’t spell out how or what companies must do. That’s what the FCC rule aimed to do.

The Trump-appointed chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, is a critic of the broadband privacy rules and has said he wants to roll them back. He and other Republicans want a different federal agency, the Federal Trade Commission, to police privacy for both broadband companies like AT&T and internet companies like Google. GOP lawmakers said they cared about consumer privacy every bit as much as Democrats did.

The House voted 215-205 to reject the rule which is designed  to give consumers greater control over how internet service providers share information

The House voted 215-205 to reject the rule which is designed  to give consumers greater control over how internet service providers share information

‘What America needs is one standard across the internet ecosystem and the Federal Trade Commission is the best place for that standard,’ said Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore.

Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy of California said the FTC has acted as America’s online privacy regulator since the dawn of the internet. He called the rule an effort to strip the agency of that role.

‘The internet has become the amazing tool that it is because it is largely left untouched by regulation – and that shouldn’t stop now,’ McCarthy said.

Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder of Kansas parted ways with his Republican colleagues on the issue. He said the privacy protections were ‘commonsense measures’ that would have ensured internet users continue to have control over their personal information.

‘We don’t want the government having access to our information without our consent, and the same goes for private business,’ Yoder said.

Broadband providers don’t currently fall under FTC jurisdiction, and advocates say the FTC has historically been a weaker agency than the FCC.

The American Civil Liberties Union urged Trump to veto the resolution, appealing to his populist side.

‘President Trump now has the opportunity to veto this resolution and show he is not just a president for CEOs but for all Americans,’ said the ACLU’s Neema Singh Guliani.

Republicans repeatedly discounted the privacy benefits generated by the rule. Over the last two months, they’ve voted to repeal more than a dozen Obama-era regulations in the name of curbing government overreach. The criticism of their efforts was particularly harsh Tuesday.

‘Lawmakers who voted in favor of this bill just sold out the American people to special interests,’ said Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo.

Read more:
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook


Singapore: New Smart Nation and Digital Government Office to be formed on May 1

March 20, 2017

Image may contain: one or more people and people standing

21 Mar 2017 00:18

SINGAPORE: Staff from digital and technology teams in several ministries will form a new office in charge of digital transformation in the public service on May 1, the Prime Minister’s Office announced on Monday (Mar 20).

The Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO), to be formed under the Prime Minister’s Office, will comprise staff from the Ministry of Finance’s Digital Government Directorate, the Ministry of Communications and Information’s Government Technology Policy department and the Smart Nation Programme Office.

The Government Technology Agency (GovTech) will also be placed under the Prime Minister’s Office as the implementing agency of SNDGO.

Together, GovTech and SNDGO will form the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG).

The SNDGG’s responsibilities include driving digital transformation for the public service to strengthen the Government’s information and communications technology infrastructure and improve public service delivery.

The group will lead the development of a national digital identity framework to facilitate digital transactions as well as a national platform to support Government agencies’ use of Internet of Things applications, which link physical items such as cars, health devices and home appliances to the Internet.

It will work with other Government agencies, industries and the public to apply technologies to improve Singaporeans’ lives in areas such as urban mobility, the Prime Minister’s Office said. For example, the SNDGG will work with the Land Transport Authority on technologies to improve public transport, enhance urban logistics and reduce congestion.

It will also build on ongoing work by GovTech to enhance data sharing through the portal and collaborate with the Monetary Authority of Singapore to promote e-payments.


Permanent Secretary of Defence Development in the Ministry of Defence Ng Chee Khern will concurrently lead the SNDGG as Permanent Secretary from May 1.

The SNDGG will be overseen by a ministerial committee chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean. Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim will be the deputy chairman. Other committee members include Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation initiative Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Higher Education and Skills Ong Ye Kung – who has been appointed to champion public service innovation – and Minister of State for Communications and Information and Education Janil Puthucheary, who will be the Minister-in-charge of GovTech.

Mr Ng will also retain his appointment as chairman of the GovTech Board, which will oversee GovTech’s operations and guide the agency’s efforts to support Smart Nation and digital government, the Prime Minister’s Office said.


Dr Balakrishnan said the reorganisation will put the Smart Nation’s master planning, policy and implementation together and “turbo-charge” the Government’s efforts towards this goal.

“This is not really a technical or technological issue per se. It requires a change in mindset, a change in relationships, the way we work together as a whole of Singapore,” he said.

For example, it requires a whole-of-Government effort to put together a common platform for e-payments, along with the cooperation of the whole private sector as well as banking and financial institutions, Dr Balakrishnan said.

Dr Puthucheary also said efforts to improve the way the Government is run will not work as well as desired without “excellent people”.

“A big part of what we want to do is to build a deep engineering talent in Singapore, bringing more people into engineering, into ICT engineering, cyber security engineering, data analysis, whether they’re here in Singapore or Singaporeans residing overseas.”

He added that there are many talented Singaporeans working in these fields overseas. “We’re hoping we can attract people back into Singapore to build that engineering team here.”

Vietnam urges firms to stop YouTube and Facebook ads in protest over ‘fake content’ — Critisism from human rights groups and anti-communist posting embarrass Hanoi

March 16, 2017


By My Pham | HANOI

Vietnam on Thursday called on all companies doing business there to stop advertising on YouTube, Facebook and other social media until they find a way to halt the publication of “toxic” anti-government information.

At a meeting with the information and communication minister, companies including the local operations of Unilever, Ford and Yamaha Motor all committed to obey the call to suspend YouTube advertising.

Last month, the communist country began putting pressure on advertisers to try to get YouTube owner Google and other companies to remove content from foreign-based dissidents.

But Information and Communication Minister Truong Minh Tuan said the response had not yet been good enough. Although there were 8,000 anti-government videos on YouTube, Google had only blocked 42 and hadn’t removed them completely, the ministry said.

“Today we call on all Vietnamese firms that are advertising not to abet them to take advertising money from firms to use against the Vietnamese government,” Tuan told companies at a meeting in Hanoi.

“We also call on all internet users to raise their voice to Google and Facebook to prevent toxic, fake content violating Vietnamese law in the online environment.”

YouTube reiterated its global policy of thoroughly reviewing government requests to block content they believe is illegal and restricting it where appropriate. Facebook gave no immediate response.

The Asia Internet Coalition, an industry association which includes both companies, said Vietnam and its businesses benefited greatly from the internet.

“It is critical for the Vietnamese government to protect the open nature of the internet, and put in place the right conditions that incentivize investment and nurture innovation,” said Jeff Paine, the group’s managing director.

For governments to complain to Google and Facebook about content published online is not new, but industry officials said there was less precedent for a state to try to put pressure on them through their advertisers.

Vietnam’s state-owned Vinamilk, and flag carrier Vietnam Airlines suspended YouTube ads last month after the government told them their ads had appeared alongside inappropriate content.

Because of the computer-directed processes that pair adverts with their targeted audiences on social media, companies are not always aware of or have direct control over which specific videos an advert has been placed alongside.

Vietnam has come under fire from Western countries and human rights groups for its Decree 72 on social media – which bans information that it deems anti-government, damaging to national security or destroying national unity.

Despite the restrictions, content that ostensibly breaches the code’s standards is still prolific.

While Vietnam makes up a very small part of the business operations of companies like Google and Facebook, it is one of Asia’s fastest growing economies and a hot investment target for global consumer brands.

Within Vietnam itself, YouTube and Facebook account for two-thirds of digital media market share in Vietnam, according to Nguyen Khoa Hong Thanh, Operations Director at digital marketing agency Isobar Vietnam.

(Editing by Matthew Tostevin and Nick Macfie)

China admits political education for students is poor

March 12, 2017


Image may contain: 10 people, crowd

China is doing a poor job at political education for university students because the classes are outdated and unfashionable, the education minister said on Sunday in a rare admission of the difficulties faced enforcing a key government policy.

Beijing has campaigned against the spread of “Western values” at universities, and the ruling Communist Party’s anti-corruption watchdog last year sent inspectors to monitor teachers for “improper” remarks in class.

In December, President Xi Jinping called for allegiance to the party from colleges and universities, the latest effort by China to tighten its hold on education.

Speaking on the sidelines of the annual meeting of parliament, Education Minister Chen Baosheng said Xi had made “important comments” on political education for students in December, but that there were problems on the ground.

“When we go and investigate at colleges and universities, attention levels at thought and political theory classes are not high. People are there in body but not in spirit,” Chen said.

“Why is this? The contents do not suit their needs. Perhaps mainly the formula is rather outdated, the tools are rather crude and the packaging is not that fashionable,” he added.

Students need to be led by the core values of Chinese socialism to ensure their healthy moral growth, and they should also study traditional Chinese culture, revolutionary culture and “advanced socialist culture”, Chen said.

That is the best way to get students ready to shoulder their responsibilities to society, he added.

Crackdowns on what academics and students can say and should think are nothing new in China.

Curriculums and speech at universities, in particular, are tightly controlled by the government, fearful of a repeat of the pro-democracy protests in 1989 that were led by students.

In 2013, a liberal Chinese economist who had been an outspoken critic of the party was expelled from the elite Peking University.

A year later, the university, once a bastion of free speech in China, established a 24-hour system to monitor public opinion on the internet and take early measures to control and reduce negative speech, according to a party journal at the time.

China aims to build world-class universities and some of its top schools fair well in international rankings by various standards. However, critics argue constraints on academic freedom could inhibit those ambitions.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)


Ideological education stressed for Chinese college students

Updated: 2010-05-31

BEIJING – A senior Communist Party of China (CPC) official has urged greater effort to promote the ideological education of the nation’s college students.

Ideological education stressed for Chinese college students

Li Changchun (L), member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, shakes hands with a participant before a meeting on the ideological education of college students in Beijing, China, May 29, 2010. [Photo/Xinhua]

“Continuous efforts should be made to boost college students’ ideological thought to nurture qualified successors for the construction of socialism with Chinese characteristics,” said Li Changchun, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee.

Li made the remarks at a two-day meeting on the ideological education of college students, held in Beijing on Saturday and Sunday.

Li said although college students’ ideological education has achieved good results in recent years, it is still not meeting the needs of the nation, the Party and the expectations of the people and the needs of achieving the healthy development of the students.

He urged universities to create a sound environment for students’ healthy growth and to keep ideological education close to reality, life and the students.