Speech by SMS Janil Puthucheary at the techUK Digital Ethics Summit 2022
1. Hello everyone, and greetings from Singapore.
2. Thank you for inviting me to join you at the Digital Ethics Summit. You have an exciting line up of panel discussions on trust in tech, data, and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
3. I was asked to speak about Singapore’s approach to maintaining trust in the digital domain. Businesses and government need to strengthen trust in our digital services and products. We collaborate closely with industry to develop standards and regulations, and to implement solutions. We have to leverage on the best possible talent, wherever it is, and take advantage of the innovation and entrepreneurship of the private sector in this highly dynamic environment.
4. AI is a set of rapidly evolving technologies with potentially significant benefits and risks. Singapore recognises that industry will need to be given the space to innovate, and we have taken a balanced approach in regulating AI.
5. We developed a voluntary Model AI Governance Framework, in collaboration with industry to provide businesses with a reference on how best to deploy AI responsibly. This is a pragmatic approach. By guiding businesses to show that their uses of AI are explainable, transparent, and fair, we can help businesses build trust in AI-based solutions.
6. We took a step further to work with industry to develop AI Verify, the world’s first AI Governance Testing Framework and Toolkit. Through technical tests and process checks, AI Verify is Singapore’s practical and objective approach to demonstrate responsible use. Currently a minimum viable product, we welcome interested organisations to further develop AI Verify with us.
7. Another role for government is to support industry in securing cyberspace. In Singapore, we have the Cybersecurity Industry Call for Innovation, which provides funds and networking opportunities for cybersecurity companies to co-develop novel solutions together with us. This has helped to generate innovative solutions to real-world cybersecurity challenges.
8. For example, a UK-based company, CyberOwl, will be developing an automated solution to detect vulnerabilities in computer systems onboard shipping vessels. This will help ship operators manage and respond to cybersecurity incidents while out at sea. We can’t expect a cybersecurity professional to be stationed on every ship.
9. Collaboration with industry and stakeholders is necessary but not sufficient. The industry, especially smaller businesses, will need to enhance their capabilities to implement best practices to maintain digital trust and safety.
10. Singapore has been investing in Privacy Enhancing Technologies, or PETs, which are tools and processes that enable businesses to extract value from data without exposing the data itself. These PETs provide businesses opportunities to develop useful AI systems. For instance, banks can pool data and build AI models for better fraud detection, while protecting their customers’ identity and financial information. Earlier this year, we launched a PET regulatory Sandbox to help enterprises pilot PETs when they use data on their own or in partnerships with other entities.
11. Getting all this right will require international partnerships, especially to enhance interoperability. There is an increasing global trust deficit. It is important for the international community to promote the use of technology for social and economic growth in a stable and open environment.
12. One pragmatic and useful area of cross-border cooperation is in having data flow freely with trust. For businesses which need inter- and intra-company transfers across a wider region, we have the APEC Cross Border Privacy Rules system, or CBPR. This certification bridges differing privacy laws in APEC and reduces the barriers to data flows.
13. As one of the founding members of the Global CBPR Forum, Singapore is also working with partners to take the CBPR system global. This means one common certification for data transfers across many economies in and beyond APEC, making seamless global data flows a possibility. In addition, we are working with the UK on a mutual agreement to enable even more seamless data transfers at the country-to-country level.
14. Cybersecurity is another important area where Governments must work together. We can and should establish mutually recognised cybersecurity standards.
15. Singapore recently signed a Mutual Recognition Arrangement with Germany on the cybersecurity labels issued by both countries to rate smart devices on their level of cybersecurity. By mutually recognising each other’s schemes, manufacturers of these smart devices will benefit from improved access to new markets. Customers can also select from a wider range of trusted digital products.
16. Finally, let me reiterate that everyone has a part to play to maintain trust in the digital domain. That trust is essential to ensure that we all benefit from the possibilities and opportunities afforded by rapid technological developments. And it will require all of us to work closely together.
17. On that note, I wish you all insightful and fruitful discussions ahead.
18. Thank you very much.
[PDF version of the speech](/files/Speeches%202022/speech%20by%20sms%20janil%20puthucheary%20at%20techuk%20digital%20ethics%20summit%202022.pdf)