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#FreeMyInternet appeals to Members of Parliament

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  • Robert Ho
    #FreeMyInternet appeals to Members of Parliament [image: DMCA.com] July
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 2, 2013

      #FreeMyInternet appeals to Members of Parliament

      Executive Summary

      From 1 June 2013, the Media Development Authority of Singapore put into effect a new licensing regime that gives MDA the power to require a computer online service (including websites) deemed to carry at least 1 Singapore news programme per week and receive at least 50,000 unique visits per month from Singapore for 2 consecutive months to be individually licensed. Ten websites have been identified for licensing.

      Licensing conditions include:

      • Put up a performance bond of S$50,000
      • Upon receiving a notice from MDA, remove any content that is purported to breach MDA’s content standards within 24 hours, failing which the performance bond may be forfeited.
      • Such conditions as may be prescribed under Section 8 of the Broadcasting Act, which do not have to be made public.
      • If the computer online service is provided by a company incorporated under the Companies Act, the MDA must approve the appointment of Chairman, Chief Executive Officer or Director, and no person may (either alone or together with associates) own more than 5% of the company’s shares without the Minister’s approval.

      We have identified 4 key issues:

      1. Lack of consultation and transparency in MDA’s policymaking process.
      2. Disregard for findings from previous consultation exercises like that of the Advisory Council on the Impact of New Media on Society (AIMS) in 2007-08.
      3. Arbitrary and non-transparent implementation of the new licensing regime, including the overtly broad definition of Singapore news programme.
      4. Ownership and management controls over computer online services hinder Singapore’s development as a global information hub.

      An ideal media regulation regime should address concerns of online censorship and aspirations for a larger media and political space online while providing a conducive and predictable legal environment for credible and responsible players to develop and flourish. We appeal to Members of Parliament to consider the following:

      • Withdraw the new licensing regime, or at the very minimum suspend its operation.
      • Commission an open and transparent public consultation process with all stakeholders.
      • Press for an opportunity for MPs to debate in Parliament the need for changes to the current licensing regime, and if one is necessary the principles required for a fair and transparent framework that does not limit free expression beyond what is strictly needed.
      • Address the onerous ownership and management controls over computer online services

      policybrief

      View the full entire policy brief here or save by right click and “save link as“.

       

      Following email was sent to all the MPs in Parliament on 2 Jul 2013:

      Dear Singapore Members of Parliament,

      In view of Parliament sitting on 8 July, #FreeMyInternet has prepared a policy brief (refer to attachment), which we urge you to use to prepare for a robust debate on the Media Development Authority’s amendments to the Broadcasting Act.

      The new licencing regime marks a significant shift in Singapore’s media policy landscape and merits a full debate in Parliament. It is also potentially detrimental to the rights of your constituents to freedom of information on the Internet, inhibiting both their ability to interact online and the quality of information they receive.

      In our policy brief, we continue to call for the complete withdrawal of the licencing regime, for the following key reasons:

      1. There was a complete lack of consultation and transparency in MDA’s policy-making
      process.
      2. No consideration was given to findings from previous consultation exercises on Internet regulation.
      3. The implementation of the new regulations is arbitrary and non-transparent.
      4. The ownership and management controls over computer online services will potentially cripple Singapore’s aspiration to become a global information hub.

      We appeal for all MPs to take these reasons into consideration, press for greater consultation, transparency and accountability in our media regulation process, and ensure a level playing field in our online media environment.

      Thank you.

      Sent on behalf of the #FReeMyInternet group

      .

      * TR Emeritus is part of the #FreeMyInternet movement (www.freemyinternet.com), founded by a collective of bloggers who are against the licensing requirements imposed by the Singapore government on 1 June 2013, which requires online news sites to put up a performance bond of S$50,000 and comply within 24 hours to remove content that is found to be in breach of content standards. The group believes this to be an attempt at censorship and an infringement on the rights of Singaporeans to access information online and calls for a withdrawal of this licensing regime.


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