Not surprisingly, the news on the Internet ban in government agencies, statutory board and ministries starting next year caused more than a buzz among Singaporeans – public servants and the general public alike.
In all-out Singaporean style, Whatsapp group chats, Facebook walls and meal time conversations became hotbeds for sarcasm and laughing bitterly at the hilarious memes and witty comments made by netizens.
While there were a number of netizens who understood the need for the ban, the general sentiment still stood that the move was too extreme, and a step back in the “Smart Nation” scheme which was, and still is, highly endorsed by the Singapore government.
IDA Plays Mythbuster
In an attempt to calm collective nerves, IDA (Infocomm Development Authority) posted a chart on their Facebook page at around 8pm last night, listing the myths and truths of the ban in a simpler, more straightforward format.
Complete with the tagline “Do have a read to have a better understanding of the Public Service’s internet surfing separation initiative.”, it’s clear that the IDA wanted to assure the public that the ban was not as severe as netizens have made it out to be.
While it does provide a good TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) summary of the news, its relatively tardy release feels like an afterthought, and seems to imply that many didn’t bother reading thoroughly into the reports before jumping the metaphorical gun; spurring on comments on Facebook such as:
This morning, a report on The Straits Times gave a clearer explanation as to why the move was needed, stating that security software firm Symantec’s Internet Security Threats had listed Singapore as “the third most popular destination for spear-phishing, in which crooks send messages that appear to come from a trusted source to dupe victims into downloading an infected attachment or click on a fake link”.
In spite of efforts to justify the move, there is still a general consensus that the measures taken should be more nuanced, such as “limiting the information one can receive based on job scope” using identity and access control technologies available, as suggested by security software firm Fortinet Asia-Pacific’s vice-president, Mr George Chang. Public servants have also been quoted to state the move as “a hassle” to their “stretched work schedule”.
When It Comes To News, Sometimes Shorter Is Sweeter
Singaporeans are an internet-savvy bunch, and ‘exciting’ news like this definitely gets us riled up and talking about the juiciest parts – let’s be honest, it makes for good conversation. The fact that many of us are a busy bunch and therefore prefer information in a snappier, more efficient (think about how the Singlish we use shortens our sentences to their essential points) format is also the reason why I feel that the chart should have been released with the report in the first place.
Will it subdue sentiments? Perhaps not, but it is definitely more succinct, and will ease us into the inevitable change better.
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