Singaporeans Are Being Watched


I can't help but laugh when I read Lucky Tan's latest blog post [link] on the "Reasons for anonymity on the Internet." Don't get me wrong - Every reason was rational and reasonably sound. I don't disagree with anything Lucky Tan listed in the post. What forced a sad grin was the comments that followed in response to that post. We can gather that most Singaporeans still reckon that anonymity is still an option, that there is still room for discussion.

While netizens debate till the cows come home about the merits of anonymity in cyberspace, our government might have moved steps ahead of us. It is not whether it is good or bad for us, the question is whether we already lost it ages ago. To me, cyber freedom is a myth in Singapore. If you believe in online anonymity, you may be better off robbing a bank wearing a cape of invisibility magicked by the Ama Keng witch doctor.

Perhaps you should be reading about this. [link]

I'll summarise. There is One Software which can do the following:

  • Grab images of your computer screens
  • Record Skype chats and possibly every chat medium worth recording
  • Turn on your camera without you realising
  • Microphones as well
  • It logs your keystrokes
  • It even have a mobile version customised for all major mobile phones
  • It avoids detection, including antivirus software such as Kaspersky Lab, Symantec, F Secure and others

Well, the better news is, Singapore uses it.

"Servers in Singapore, Indonesia, Mongolia and Brunei went dark, while one in Bahrain briefly shut down before reincarnating elsewhere."

If you are someone that some government agencies are interested in and unless you live under the expressway with no internet access and use a Nokia 3310, you can be sure they know who is your favourite porn star, what you had for dinner last Wednesday, which finger you have been using to dig your nose and how many times you fapped to Doraemon, if this report is to be accurate. So, the next time you look at your mobile phone or lap top, remember to stare at the camera and wave. Since you will never know when you are watched, you might as well display your sweetest smile while you can.

One report is not enough to convince you, how about another? [link] Summary again:

  • 100 surveillance cameras will be set up around Singapore
  • Each one has a video analytic software, have proven effective to "nab high-rise litterbugs"
  • The equipment can pick up items as small as cigarette butts being thrown from windows, even in low light conditions at night.

Impressive isn't it? If these equipment can pick up a cigarette butt, pretty sure there are plenty of things that you don't wish to be picked up. Does anyone stop to question the rationale of installing high tech gadgets to nab litterbugs? I guess not. You can't question something that doesn't exist. A lighter way to look at it would be some form of Electronic Litter Pricing (ELP), obviously ERP has almost reached its full potential and some new promising ideas are always welcomed. On the serious note, our freedom is compromised, if it hasn't been done to death already. Before you go, "It doesn't concern me because I don't litter," do stop and think about it for a while.

This example was given not to prove that there isn't anonymity on the internet like the way we prefer but to allow you to ask yourself this question. If our government has no qualms of invading the privacy of their citizens to "nab high-rise litterbugs", what will they do if they have the technological means to collate a detailed timeline of your activities, be it the virtual world or reality?


  1. And people thought that 1984 was just a novel.

    1. I've yet to read it. shd pick it up one of these days. thanks

    2. Is spookily prophetic and very relevant

    3. Basically, I remember it as this decent chap (Winston Smith) in a really horrific totalitarian society, who tried to live a secret life fighting for all that freedom crap, but in the end is betrayed, exposed and driven raving mad, and finally loves the system forever.

  2. Be afraid.. be very afraid...

  3. Only Lisbeth Salander would beat this system. Unfortunately she doesn't exist in real life. The closest we have is Julian Assange, and he is in custody on trumped-up rape charges.

  4. "Be afraid.. be very afraid..."

    Only Mr Bean can save us from the tyrant evil empire. Anyone know where is Mr Bean now ? or is he enjoying 24x7 protection in some secretly guard facility of the tiny red dot ? haha

  5. Well-written and well argued, I feel, -asingaporeanson-.

    For me, from the time I decided to communicate online, I'd already decided I'd best be me.
    Of course, that means I have to be very mindful all the time, of what I say on the Web, but I've gotten used to that.

    It satisfies me much to reflexively and incessantly edit for the best version I can publish online, even of my most spontaneous reactions.
    I actually deeply dislike the negativity, vitriol, and sheer poison that some anonymous commenters (the worst are called trolls) assume they can get away with.

    Of course, I choose to steer away from political extremes, whether pro- or anti-establishment.
    I'm more interested in the philosophical reality that ultimately engulfs us all.

    I seek no followers, and nowadays I can no longer place blind faith in any organisations.
    Standing alone seems so vulnerable, but ask around about sole survivors, the one-eyed amongst the blind, the prophet or seer amongst the masses, etc.

    Nations rise, politicians fall, people lash out personally, all die out some way or the other in the end, and in a few generations, it all no longer matters.
    The Egyptians must have believed their kingdom was forever, as did the later Greeks, and then the Romans, and then the Crusaders, and then the colonising West, and then USA these days, and who knows, China tomorrow.

    But no one has stayed in power even close to forever, not even for a millennium.
    So I comment with as true a voice as I can muster, for all too soon my distinct originality would be lost to mortality.

    Too big to be insignificantly anonymous.
    Too small to be a significant threat to the petty and narrow.

    1. I am exactly the same as you brother.

      Too big to be insignificantly anonymous.
      Too small to be a significant threat to the petty and narrow.

      I couldn't have put it in a better way

    2. do you know where and how to draw the line?

    3. If you really want to, a pre-school or primary school teacher can teach you how.
      You start from one point on paper, and then you put a sharpened pencil down and drag it to another point.
      A ruler helps, if the line has to be very straight.
      A pointed compass with pencil is for those who are fussy about being mathematically precise.

    4. yep, tee gong helps !

  6. I am not afraid of being watched by the government. I am just being afraid of being watched by Karma, god, heaven and what have you. But do they?

  7. "It doesn't concern me because I don't litter,"

    Many Singaporeans have no concept of their right to privacy and their right as a human being. And that is precisely why the Singapore government has been able to do what they want, and is still doing whatever they want to its citizens.

  8. i used to stand outside the istana and watch the policeman pointing here and there in my direction when i was in spore.If they can watch us like some perverted sex maniac so can all of us.

  9. All along, I know that special SW could be used to track IDs and key words like terrorism, bomb, suicide, etc All Internet activities must go thru the servers before the info comes to us. Remember one Singtel was scanning emails and PCs of subscribers? This caused a huge hoo ha! They claimed that it's to check for virus! KNN!
    That's why ppl are still using Blackberry cuz all Internet data will only go thru the US servers by-passing the local servers. At one time many countries wanted to ban the use of BB in countries. That's the reason. I believe only BB is safe in that sense.

    1. Perhaps we're just allowed to HOPE that BlackBerry is exceptional and exclusively connected direct to US servers.
      But it's some distance between local communication and connection to the US.

      And there's no proof that the US government can't share with Singapore, what it monitors over there with its OWN security laws, in the interests of international security, policing and cooperation.
      Already, countries have extradition treaties, no?

      Perhaps Assange and Wikileaks came late into doing what governments and other significant snoops had been doing for decades, if not centuries and millennia.

      I've been wondering why Singapore does not force people to use only national intranet for better control over them, like what Iran and North Korea, and possibly China, are doing.
      Then I realised, there's no need to, we can afford the technology and collaboration to join the rest of the world in monitoring our own citizens.

      The last time I checked for BB packages under SingTel (but I don't know how to use BlackBerry), I wondered why they had a separate subscription package just for it.
      This sort of attracts attention to the fact that special attention is paid to it.

      So you see, like Neo, everyone is essentially, eventually screwed.
      The Matrix is everywhere.

  10. It's not true that the S'pore government uses FinFisher. There are command servers in Singapore, but that doesn't indicate the people operating the software.