Press Release

DBS, Singapore Judiciary, Ministry of Communications and Information Launch Community Hackathon to Counter Growing Trend of Online Harms

  • Jul 21, 2021
  • MCI

Joint Press Release by DBS Bank, Supreme Court of Singapore and Ministry of Communications and Information

1. With more people turning to the virtual world amid Covid-19, the issue of online harms, particularly against women and girls, has become increasingly prevalent. In response to these growing challenges, DBS, the Singapore Judiciary, and the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) are jointly organising a community hackathon to generate innovative solutions for safer and kinder online spaces.

2. This unique private-public collaboration is organised under the banner of ‘Hackathon for a Better World’, which DBS and the Singapore Judiciary launched last year as an action-oriented platform for those with a passion to use innovation and law as forces for good to create valuable solutions for society. In coming up with this year’s theme, the organisers drew inspiration from MCI’s Singapore Together Alliance for Action to tackle online harms, especially those targeted at women and girls (AfA). This year’s hackathon also supports the Singapore Together Movement, which brings together people from the community, and the private and public sectors in citizen-led efforts to build our future Singapore.  

3. Over the next two months, 40 teams with diverse compositions, such as practising lawyers, law students, public officers, and DBS employees, will be challenged to “hack” one of three problem statements jointly developed by DBS, the Singapore Judiciary and MCI:

• What support infrastructure and mechanisms do users (especially women and girls)

need to protect them from, respond to, and cope with online harms?

• How can the legal community collaborate with businesses and the wider community to

help users (especially women and girls) manage their online safety?

• How can society foster a safer and more responsible online space for users (especially

women and girls) given the constantly evolving nature of the online environment?

4. On the hackathon and its support of the AfA, Parliamentary Secretary for Communications and Information Ms Rahayu Mahzam said, “As digitalisation becomes more prevalent, our shared online space must continue to be safe for everyone. Over the past few months, the issue of online sexual harassment, and in particular, against women and girls, has emerged as a key concern in the many engagements that I have had. What has also emerged from these engagements is the collective resolve to tackle this issue. That is why today’s hackathon is significant, as it seeks to rally the community to come up with solutions to ensure the continued freedom and safety of our women and girls online. This hackathon is the first private-public partnership initiative under the AfA, co-chaired by Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and National Development Ms Sim Ann and I. I am looking forward to hearing the many ideas and solutions from the hackathon that will help develop a stronger support system for victims of online harms, and create a safer, more respectful and more responsible online culture.”

5. Mr Lam Chee Kin, Group Head of Legal, Compliance and Secretariat at DBS, said, “We are delighted to continue the second year of a productive collaboration with the Singapore Judiciary and welcome the inclusion of MCI in trying to focus on the issue of online harm. As the economy digitises, let’s help society reap the benefits, but also protect itself from criminal or other adverse elements abusing the system.”

6. Mr Tan Ken Hwee, Chief Transformation and Innovation Officer for the Singapore Judiciary said, “We had a very fruitful hackathon last year, yielding practical solutions to enhance access to justice. Some of the solutions are actually being adapted for real-world deployment! We are pleased to jointly organise this year’s hackathon with DBS and MCI, with a focus on protecting vulnerable persons from online harms. This is a significant challenge, as children and other vulnerable persons are “digital natives” and can be expected to use online interaction much more than previous generations. We hope to encourage innovative minds to explore solutions to tackle these challenges and play a part in ensuring a safer and more secure cyber space for everyone.”

7. Hackathon for a Better World will adopt a unique ‘slow-burn’ format, where participants work on their problem statements through an iterative process. This is unlike the usual hackathon format where participants solve problem statements over a few hours or a few days. The unconventional approach adopted in this instance will allow participants to have ample time and space testing their iterations while managing their existing commitments. This will also create a more conducive environment for participants to gain deeper insight and develop sharper, more meaningful responses to the complex challenges before them.  

8. To support participants on their ‘learn-as-you-hack’ journey, DBS will organise a design thinking masterclass on 26 July 2021 to share the bank’s in-house innovation framework. Through this workshop, participants will gain new skills to test, develop and validate data-driven insights as they work and iterate on their proposals. 

9. Participants have until 17 September 2021 to submit their proposals and will pitch their ideas before a panel of judges on 7 October 2021. Winners will be announced on 28 October 2021.


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