Online Trust and Safety Research Programme and Centre for Advanced Technologies in Online Safety
1. Harmful online content can cause severe damage to people’s well-being and undermine social trust. In addition, the misuse of technologies exacerbates the speed and volume of online harms. As part of the Singapore Government’s efforts in growing our local capabilities to address new forms of online harms including misinformation and content manipulation, the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) is leading the Online Trust and Safety (OTS) Research Programme. MCI will steer the direction of the programme and oversee its progress. OTS programme is a $20 million programme funded under the Smart Nation & Digital Economy domain of Singapore’s Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2025 Plan. It runs from 2023 till 2028.
2. Under the OTS programme, the Centre for Advanced Technologies in Online Safety (CATOS) will be hosted by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). CATOS seeks to bring together expertise from research partners, companies and practitioners from the online trust and safety sector in Singapore to build a vibrant ecosystem for a safer Internet. CATOS will be officially launched at the inaugural OTS forum scheduled in the first half of 2024, which will feature international OTS expert speakers and showcase the first version of OTS technology solutions by CATOS for trial and adoption. More details will be shared in due time.
3. To develop Singapore’s technology leadership in online trust and safety, CATOS will focus on building and customising tools to:
a. Detect harmful content such as deepfakes and non-factual claims;
b. Identify societal vulnerabilities and develop potential interventions (e.g. flagging or correction of misinformation) that could reduce Internet users’ susceptibility to harmful online content; and
c. Test “Trust by Design” technologies such as watermarking and content authentication.
4. In the lead-up to its official launch, CATOS has started conversations with local researchers, technology developers and industry to raise awareness of the challenges and opportunities in online trust and safety since April 2023. Through its various workshops and seminar events, CATOS has built a professional OTS community network, with over 100 participants from academia, industry and public agencies. To date, more than 30 professionals are involved in CATOS’ work, including scientists, engineers, operations staff and adjunct members. CATOS draws on multidisciplinary research capabilities of academic experts from local and global research institutes to strengthen research collaboration and knowledge exchange.
5. With the collaboration of various partners and exchange of expertise, MCI hopes to leverage CATOS as an effective platform to tap on local and global capabilities to more effectively address online harms and threats.