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Singapore's Sweet Cyber Dreams Meet Messy Reality

Singapore's Sweet Cyber Dreams Meet Messy Reality

If you live in Singapore, you may have been feeling a bit creeped out this week. Last Friday, the government revealed that hackers broke into the country’s biggest public hospital network in June. The intruders were after details of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s drug prescriptions, but in the process, they stole private, non-medical information belonging to 1.5 million residents – about a quarter of Singapore’s population. It was the worst data breach in Singapore’s history, and a big setback for a country that has been investing heavily to transform itself into a “Smart Nation” where people can do everything from report potholes to manage their medical records online.


Beyond the immediate logistical, financial, and bureaucratic challenges, the incident highlights a broader dilemma facing countries around the world: digital technologies have the potential to revolutionize how governments administer public services, but aggregating citizens’ information into enormous databases also creates enormous new vulnerabilities. When governments fail to stop malicious hackers from exploiting those vulnerabilities, it erodes the basic contract between citizens and their leaders.

This issue has surfaced previously in public debates around India’s Aadhaar database. More than a billion people have signed up for the biometric ID program, which allows citizens to receive social benefits or open a bank account using their fingerprint. But some privacy and security experts worry that putting personal information about more than a billion citizens in one place – and making the Aadhaar ID a prerequisite for access to all kinds of public services – could leave the country vulnerable to massive identity theft or a disruptive cyberattack. Singapore’s experience shows that even a wealthy, well-run cybersecurity powerhouse may struggle to make the next digital leap without leaving its population exposed to new forms of digital harm.

In the wake of the hack, Singapore has disconnected the computers at its public healthcare centers from the internet. That may improve security, but it will also make it harder for doctors, nurses, and patients to benefit from the connected “Smart Nation” that Singapore is trying to build.

Carbon has a bad rep, but did you know it's a building block of life? As atoms evolved, carbon trapped in CO2 was freed, giving way to the creation of complex molecules that use photosynthesis to convert carbon to food. Soon after, plants, herbivores, and carnivores began populating the earth and the cycle of life began.

Learn more about how carbon created life on Earth in the second episode of Eni's Story of CO2 series.

As we enter the homestretch of the US presidential election — which is set to be the most contentious, and possibly contested, in generations — Americans are also voting on 35 seats up for grabs in a battle for the control of the Senate. The 100-member body is currently held 53-47 by the Republican Party, but many individual races are wide open, and the Democrats are confident they can flip the upper chamber of Congress.

Either way, the result will have a profound impact not only on domestic policy, but also on US foreign relations and other issues with global reach. Here are a few areas where what US senators decide reverberates well beyond American shores.

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On September 23, GZERO Media — in partnership with Microsoft and Eurasia Group — gathered global experts to discuss global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic in a livestream panel. Our panel for the discussion Crisis Response & Recovery: Reimagining while Rebuilding, included:

  • Brad Smith, President, Microsoft
  • Ian Bremmer, President and Founder, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media
  • Jeh Johnson, Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP and former Secretary of Homeland Security.
  • John Frank, Vice President, UN Affairs at Microsoft
  • Susan Glasser, staff writer and Washington columnist, The New Yorker (moderator)

Special appearances by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde, and comedian/host Trevor Noah.

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Jon Lieber, who leads Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, offers insights on the Supreme Court vacancy:

Will Senate Republicans, who stopped a Supreme Court nomination in 2016, because it was too close to an election, pay a political price for the change in tactics this time around?

Not only do I think they won't pay a political price, I think in many cases, they're going to benefit. Changing the balance of power on the Supreme Court has been a career-long quest for many conservatives and many Republicans. And that's why you've seen so many of them fall in line behind the President's nomination before we even know who it is.

At this point, do Senate Democrats have any hope of stopping President Trump from filling the ninth seat on the Supreme Court?

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In a special GZERO Media livestream on global response and recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media president Ian Bremmer discussed the difference between Europe's unified approach to economic stimulus and the deeply divided and political nature of the current conversation in the US. While initial stimulus support was bipartisan, there is little chance of Democrats and Republicans coming together again ahead of the November 3 presidential election. "It's red state versus blue state. President Trump's saying that coronavirus isn't so bad if you take the blue states out. He's president of the blue states, you can't take the blue states out," Bremmer told moderator Susan Glasser of The New Yorker.

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Panel: How will the world recover from COVID-19?

UNGA Livestream