Outrage erupts as Singapore implements licensing for Net news sites!

The new licensing scheme will require sites with a defined volume of content relating to Singaporean news and current affairs to be issued a license to operate following notification from Singapore’s Media Development Authority (MDA).

Under the licensing framework, online news sites will be individually licensed if they (i) report an average of at least one article per week on Singapore’s news and current affairs 1 over a period of two months, and (ii) are visited by at least 50,000 unique IP addresses from Singapore each month over a period of two months. Currently, these sites are automatically class-licensed under the Broadcasting Act. When MDA has assessed that a site has met the criteria to be individually licensed, MDA will issue a formal notification and work with the site to move it to the new licensing framework.


Singapore’s Internet Code of Practice stipulates classes of content deemed “prohibited”. Prohibited content includes, among others, that which “undermines racial or religious harmony”. The licensing scheme makes it easier for the Singapore government to regulate content published by licensed sites under this code of practice and will require compliance within 24 hours from the time a licensed site is directed to remove content found to be in violation of this code. Furthermore, sites subject to the licensing framework are required to post a $50,000 “performance bond” as part of the license requirements.

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Many Singaporeans are outraged by this new licensing law and see this measure as one that furthers their government’s efforts to suppress freedom of information and expression. The Singapore government, for its part, has reportedly taken efforts to assure the public that no such intent exists and clarifies…

Responding to the uproar online, the MDA assured the public that the license scheme is actually fair and will not undermine internet freedom. It reiterated that blogs are exempted from the regulation: “An individual publishing views on current affairs and trends on his/her personal website or blog does not amount to news reporting.”

A movement has been organised to encourage Singaporeans to protest the new law. Dubbed #FreeMyInternet, its adherents (mainly the Singaporean blogging community according to the movement charter) have organised an event at Hong Lim Park in Singapore on the 8th of June where people could gather and participate in the protest. “We encourage all Singaporeans who are concerned about our future and our ability to participate in everyday online activities and discussions, and to seek out alternative news and analysis, to take a strong stand against the licensing regime which can impede on your independence.”

10 Replies to “Outrage erupts as Singapore implements licensing for Net news sites!”

  1. Critics will be quick to label this as “oppression” or “dictatorship.” I would rather see this as a government being effective and efficient. In other words, strong government.

    1. It only shows what an insecure, highly unstable, unsustainable and artificial place, Singapore is. Let’s give it five years, and you would see it crumbling as temporary slaves go back to their homelands and cost of existence rises and its nearby countries stop exporting food to it.

      Singaporeans know very well they are living in an unsustainable urban jungle with fake news and propaganda propping it up. We’ve already seen those cycles swallowing up other urban jungles. Singapore isn’t an exception.

      1. The SG government’s actions on this matter certainly leaves a lot to be desired.

        However, Singapore is no “artificial, unsustainable” place. It is very pragmatically managed and LIGHT-YEARS ahead of the Philippines.

        Providentia, could you be someone who tried getting work there, couldn’t get accepted and is therefore sour-graping?

        1. Pragmatically managed?? million dollar salaries of ministers and their ilk, who are out of touch of the ordinary “heartlander” singaporean. flood-gates open for foreigners to abuse the system. (ie. HDB prices going to the roof, CPF withdrawals for fair weather PRs) The Prime Minister who is the son of LKY, who is also married to the woman who runs Temasek Holdings (Sovereign Funds)??

          Legal lang ang Korupsyon at Nepotismo. Mas importante ang GDP kaysa sa ordinaryong mamamayan.

      2. Or perhaps you base your frothing-mouth impressions wholly on what you choose to read and have never even been to the country?

    2. There is a difference between the government and people in Singapore. The people want a better life but the government does not really care, it just wants to remain the way it is (via getting more votes). Why else do you think pap is being so ridiculously generous to pinoys? singaporeans want change and pap knows it, they are trying their very best to remain the government -even at the cost of Singaporean lives.

  2. Here’s the clarification of MDA on its earlier press release.

    On their 3rd clarification

    MDA’s content guidelines are focused on core content concerns that would
    threaten the social fabric and national interests of our country. Examples include
    content that incites racial or religious hatred; misleads and causes mass panic; or
    advocates or promotes violence.

    However, I think this guideline has many possible interpretation.

    Over-all, the press release is consistent with SG’s desire for harmony among its citizens, it is just that it can easily be abused.

  3. Does this ruling prevent the existence of sites like a getrealsingapore.com? I think this is responsible regulation of news and creating accountability in journalism. Feel free to vent/express in other non-regulated sites which are not being prohibited.

  4. Let me rephrase the entire ‘guidelines’ in a short, simple sentence.

    Singaporeans should shut up and let us do whatever we want, we are the rightful owners of this country (not you, even if you are a citizen) and thus we do not want you questioning our doings.

    -Yours sincerely, PAP

    Democracy? Democratic society? All BS. This is one step closer in the direction North Korea. GG Singapore, I’m voting for ANYONE other than PAP.

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