Internet censorship in Singapore

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In Singapore, Internet services provided by the three major Internet service providers (ISPs) are subject to regulation by the Media Development Authority (MDA) to block a "symbolic"[1] number of websites containing "mass impact objectionable"[1] material, including Playboy, YouPorn and Ashley Madison, and also since 8 July 2014, those infringing copyright. Also, the Ministry of Education, polytechnics, universities and Institute of Technical Education had its own jurisdiction to block websites such as pornography, drugs and mostly online piracy. When trying to access a blocked site, visitors are usually greeted by a MDA message, though the less transparent "404 error" screen may be displayed whereas some of it will have 'Forbidden. Anyone who is trying to download copyright materials is blocked. Access to the BlueCoat Web Filtering Service was blocked due to the condition: Pornography'.[2] The city state reportedly employs deep packet inspection of internet traffic.[3]

Famous Internet Mouth-Offs[edit]

Leading politicians of the ruling People's Action Party and government agencies have been known to use or threaten to use litigation against bloggers and other Internet content providers. The first instance of such activity was against Sintercom in July 2001 when the founder, Dr Tan Chong Kee, was asked to register the website under the nascent Singapore Broadcast Authority Act (now Media Development Authority). Dr Tan chose to shut down Sintercom due to concerns over the ambiguity of the Act. In April 2005, a blogger, Chen Jiahao, then a graduate student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, was made to apologise and shut down his blog containing criticisms on government agency A*STAR, after its Chairman Philip Yeo threatened to sue for defamation. In September 2005, three people were arrested and charged under the Sedition Act for posting racist comments on the Internet. [4] Later, the Teachers' Union announced that it is offering legal assistance to teachers who want to take legal action against students who defame them on their blogs, after five students from Saint Andrew's Junior College were suspended for three days for allegedly "flaming" two teachers and a vice-principal on their blogs.[5]

On 8 October 2012, an assistant director at National Trades Union Congress membership department was fired for racist comments in Facebook.[6]

Computer Misuse[edit]

The Computer Misuse Act (CMA) was introduced in 1993 and its offence provisions are based primarily on the United Kingdom’s 1990 legislation of the same name.[7] In the years since, the government has taken a much tougher stand on Internet-related matters, including censorship. Amendments to the Penal Code in 2006 intend to hold Internet users liable for "causing public mischief", and give the authorities broader powers in regulating Internet content.[8][9] As due to the 2013 Singapore cyberattacks, the Computer Misuse Act was renamed to Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act.

List of banned websites[edit]

The [10] maintains a list of 100 banned websites. The number of websites banned is symbolic and will not change under current legislation.

On 7 October 2014, government had passed laws to control online gambling under the "Remote Gambling Act". It took effect from 1 February 2015.[11]

In 2005, MDA banned a gay website and fined another website following complaints that the sites contained offensive content. The banned website is said to have promoted promiscuous sexual behaviour and recruited underage boys for sex and nude photography.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Lee, Melanie (23 May 2008). "Singapore bans two porn websites in symbolic move". Reuters. 
  2. ^ "The coming age of internet censorship". Retrieved 7 October 2012. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2005, United States Department of State, retrieved 20 March 2006.
  5. ^ "Schools act against students for 'flaming' teachers on blogs", The Straits Times, page 1, 27 September 2005, by Sandra Davie and Liaw Wy-Cin.
  6. ^ NTUC sacks staff for inappropriate Facebook comments 8 October 2012
  7. ^ An Overview of Cybercrime Legislation and Cases in Singapore Gregor Urbas, Asian Law Institute (ANU), October 2008
  8. ^ Mixing welfare and elitism in Singapore By Alex Au, Asia Times Online 23 November 2006
  9. ^ Consultation Paper on the Proposed Penal Code Amendments, Ministry of Home Affairs, 8 November 2006
  10. ^ "Censorship review committee Report of 2003". Media Development Authority. Retrieved 8 April 2015. 
  11. ^ "Singapore poised to block all roads to unlicensed gambling websites". The Straits Times. Archived from the original on 8 April 2015. Retrieved 8 April 2015.