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. In addition, the Ministry of Education of Singapore blocks access to pornographic and to certain "objectionable" internet content, including some torrent websites on its proxy servers. 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. 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]

Online Piracy[edit]

In 8 July 2014, the Copyright Act 2014 was amended to block a "distinct" list of pirated websites, but so far after the consultation, websites that have high risk of complaints to stop online piracy from users, where they will apply court orders to site-block the websites within 3 weeks of application.[4]

The consultation is as follows:

  • The high risk of complaints to stop online piracy, these will be subdued when ISP had blocked a website (for example, The Pirate Bay).
  • The high density flow of using pirated websites while retaining the tradition of changing to legitimate content such as CloudTV, MediaCorp's Toggle, StarHub's TV Anywhere and Spotify. (for example, KickAssTorrents).

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. [5] 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.[6]

On 8 October 2012, an assistant director at National Trades Union Congress membership department was fired for racist comments in Facebook.[7]

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.[8] 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.[9][10]

List of banned websites[edit]

The list of websites is kept confidential by the Media Development Authority. Banned sites include pornographic sites, homosexuality-related sites,[11] Malaysian news websites, sites displaying anti-Islam sentiment.

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.

References[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. ^ http://majid.info/blog/telco-snooping/
  4. ^ Singapore passes Pirate Bay blocking Anti-Piracy Law
  5. ^ Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2005, United States Department of State, retrieved 20 March 2006.
  6. ^ "Schools act against students for 'flaming' teachers on blogs", The Straits Times, page 1, 27 September 2005, by Sandra Davie and Liaw Wy-Cin.
  7. ^ NTUC sacks staff for inappropriate Facebook comments channelnewsasia.com 8 October 2012
  8. ^ An Overview of Cybercrime Legislation and Cases in Singapore Gregor Urbas, Asian Law Institute (ANU), October 2008
  9. ^ Mixing welfare and elitism in Singapore By Alex Au, Asia Times Online 23 November 2006
  10. ^ Consultation Paper on the Proposed Penal Code Amendments, Ministry of Home Affairs, 8 November 2006
  11. ^ "MDA bans gay website and fines another one". The Straits Times. 28 October 2005.