Democratic processes like elections are a growing target for foreign interference through cyber means. The 2019 Canadian Federal Election is one recent case study that has useful lessons for Singapore.
This paper analyses the strategies deployed by foreign interference campaigns (e.g., influencing voters, cyberattacks on electoral and voting systems), as well as the preventive and mitigating measures undertaken by the Canadian government during the 2019 Canadian Federal Election. We apply the lessons learnt from this case study to derive implications for Singapore. These include the threats from the micro-targeting of divisive social media messages to undermine social cohesion, disinformation campaigns (hostile information campaigns) targeting elections, and subversion by influential individuals.
The paper concludes with recommendations: (i) Singapore should consider studying and (if applicable) implementing some of the preventive and mitigating measures taken by Canada – heavier regulation of social media platforms, (ii) forming a protocol for critical election incidents, (iii) establishing a task force on election threats, (iv) providing cybersecurity assistance and advice to major political parties, and (v) enhancing citizen awareness.
New legislation may be needed to restrict the activities of foreign actors in Singapore politics, just as the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act or POFMA helps to deal with disinformation found on online platforms. Public agencies should share a clear, succinct and transparent definition of foreign interference. Policy makers should explain new laws (if any) and policy decisions in a concise and engaging way, tailored to different audiences. Digital literacy campaigns should be supported as they build public resilience against foreign interference from hostile information campaigns. These measures proposed can provide a more holistic awareness of the interlinked nature of cyber threats and foreign interference.
Related Policy Reports:
Americas / Conflict and Stability / Country and Region Studies / Cybersecurity, Biosecurity and Nuclear Safety / General / Global / International Politics and Security / Policy Reports / Singapore and Homeland Security / Southeast Asia and ASEAN
Last updated on 06/05/2020