Internet changed people's perception of world, says Vivian Balakrishnan at global security conference

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan said through the Internet, terrorist groups have been able to create 'global tribes' that are geographically separated but share the same world view.
Dr Vivian Balakrishnan said through the Internet, terrorist groups have been able to create 'global tribes' that are geographically separated but share the same world view.PHOTO: MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

SINGAPORE - Terrorism is able to thrive in the modern age because the Internet has changed the way people look at the world, said Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan on Monday (April 11) morning.

He gave the example of how traditional mass media has ceded ground to "narrow-casting", where people tend to filter out news that they do not want to hear.

"We now live in a world of fragmented echo chambers," Dr Balakrishnan said. "This leads to a shallowing of discourse... and a narrowing of minds."

Through the Internet, he added, terrorist organisations have also been able to create "global tribes" which are geographically separated but share the same world view.

This in turn gives rise to lone wolf attacks by people not previously known to be risks by national security agencies.

Dr Balakrishnan was speaking at the opening ceremony of the Asia-Pacific Programme for Senior National Security Officers, which will end on Friday.

The conference involves more than 70 security experts from more than 25 countries, including Australia, Japan and the United States.

Dr Balakrishnan also spoke on the importance of cybersecurity, especially the need for individual countries to strike a balance on thorny issues such as the a person's freedom of expression versus their right to privacy online.

This is because the real and cyber worlds are not independent of each other, he said.

"What goes on in cyberspace has real impact on the real world," he said.