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Major websites to protest licensing requirement

MEDIA STATEMENT Thursday, 30 May 2013 Major Online Websites in Singapore to Protest Against Licensing Requirement The Media Development Authority had, on Tuesday, introduced a “licensing framework” that would require “online news sites” to put up a “performance bond” of $50,000 and “comply within 24 hours to MDA’s directions to remove content that is found to be in breach of content standards”. As part of the community of websites in Singapore that provide sociopolitical news and analysis to Singaporeans, we are concerned about the impact of the newly-introduced requirement on fellow Singaporeans’ ability to receive diverse news information. While the S$50,000 performance bond is a drop in the ocean for a mainstream news outlet with an online presence, it would potentially be beyond the means of volunteer run and personal blogging platforms like ours. Hence, MDA’s claim that the licensing regime is intended to equalize the playing field between online and offline news is incorrect: the regulations will disproportionately affect us. Further, we believe that the introduction of the licensing regime has not gone through the proper and necessary consultation and had been introduced without clear guidance. In a typical public consultation exercise, a government agency will publish a draft…

Gov’t continues to be out of touch

By Andrew Loh On 4 January, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong sent a legal letter of demand to writer and activist Alex Au to remove an article which was allegedly defamatory of Mr Lee. Mr Au was also required to publish an apology, which he complied with. About 3 weeks later, PM Lee reportedly made the following remarks about the Internet, at the Singapore Perspectives 2013 conference held by the Institute of Policy Studies, on 28 January: “You have views going to extremes and when people respond to their views, they may respond in an extreme way, and when people decide to disapprove of something which was inappropriate, the disapproval can also happen in an extreme way. “It’s in the nature of the medium, the way the interactions work and that’s the reason why we think it cannot be completely left by itself.” These set the tone for what transpired subsequently – with various ministers and the Attorney General taking legal action against certain netizens and bloggers the past few months. The series of clampdown actions has now culminated in the set of new regulations announced by the Media Development Authority (MDA) on Tuesday. Namely, the new rules stipulate that…

Gov’t reneges on ‘light touch’ promise

Publichouse.sg statement on the MDA ruling: “The new Internet ruling announced by the Media Development Authority (MDA) is symptomatic of a government which continues to be out of touch with the ground. “The new rulings mark the government reneging on its promise of adopting ‘a balanced and light-touch approach’ to the Internet, as the MDA website claims. “In this year’s Freedom of The Press report published by Freedom House, Singapore’s press freedom was rated ‘Not Free’ and was ranked 153rd in the world, tied with Afghanistan, Iraq and Qatar. “We feel ashamed on behalf of all Singaporeans that MDA would introduce politically-motivated regulations that will surely put us even lower than these countries in subsequent rankings. “We urge the Government to rethink these new regulations so that Singapore does not continue being a first-world country with third-world freedom for free expression.” Publichouse.sg editorial team…