US ‘deeply concerned’ by Singapore Internet rules


A protestor covers his mouth with a Singapore fifty-dollar note during a rally at a free-speech park on June 8, 2013, to protest new government licensing rules for news websites that they say curtail freedom of expression. The United States said Monday, July 8, 2013, it was “deeply concerned” by what it called a “new restrictive” law. AFP PHOTO / ROSLAN RAHMAN

WASHINGTON—The United States said Monday it was “deeply concerned” by what it called a “new restrictive” law in Singapore for licensing online news websites.

“We urge Singapore to ensure that freedom of expression is protected in accordance with its international obligations and commitments,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said.

“We are concerned… to see Singapore applying press restrictions to the online world.”

The surprise regulations came into force on June 1 requiring news websites—including one operated by US-based Yahoo!—to obtain licenses from the city-state’s official media regulator.

Last month, Singaporean bloggers blacked out their homepages for 24 hours to protest the measure, which they say will muzzle freedom of expression.

The new rules stipulate that websites with at least 50,000 unique visitors from Singapore every month and publish at least one local news article per week over a period of two months must obtain an annual license.

Singapore’s media regulator, the Media Development Authority (MDA), and government leaders had sought to allay fears the rules were aimed at the feisty blogging community, pointing out that blogs were not considered news portals.

But websites granted a license will have to remove “prohibited content” such as articles that undermine “racial or religious harmony” within 24 hours of being notified by the authority.

The move has caused an uproar in the online community, which largely sees it as a measure to muzzle freedom of speech.

Bloggers participating in the Internet blackout insisted the law’s broad reach was indicative of the government’s intentions to require blogs to seek licensing in the future as well.

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  • Irish Coffee

    Perhaps its just me but I dont see any reason for concern with the Singapore Internet Rule. Singapore should just ignore the US on this. We all know the US just has to have a say in everything.

    What I wish Inquirer would pursue more stories are on our rules involving the internet and how they can benefit the local community.

    • riza888

      This is the Singaporean government’s attempt to suppress dissent and encumber independent reporting. This is about controlling the media and the press.

    • arpeelazaro

      there are international agreements regarding internet freedom and the US is one of its proponents, consider they are also the country that gave the Internet to the world.

  • joboni96

    hindi na makaka brainwash
    ang imperyalista

    pero tuloy pa rin ang
    internet spying tulad ng intsik switik

  • Mux

    Am I to understand that even if the website is not based in Singapore they have to obtain a license if they have at least 50,000 unique visitors from Singapore every month? Huh? how can they even implement that?

    • Mark

      Madali lang, i-block lang nila ung website sa Singapore.

      • Mux

        New websites crop up almost everyday.

      • arpeelazaro

        OK lang. singapore is a small market anyway. kung ayaw nila, wag

  • boboposter

    May Sotto din pala sa Singapore.

  • Vertumnus

    What’s the big deal. If operating a news site in Singapore requires a license, then get a license. How difficult it that. Every country has their own rules and if you expect to operate in a certain country, abide by the rule requirements.

    • Descarte5E

      Correct. Maybe Singapore is just after the business side. Nothing is free, especially in Singapore, a very fine city.

    • boboposter

      Eh pano kung di ka bigyan ng license kasi whistle blower ka ng corruption sa gobyerno?

      Ano matalino ka pa?

      • Vertumnus

        Having a license is a privilege not a right! The interpretation of democracy is different for every nation. Iran thinks their country is a democracy. The west do not. Singapore thinks it a democracy. It’s not. It autocracy. One family has held power for decade. Instituting laws that they think benefit all not just the one. If you apply for a license and get denied, that their call because that’s the way the government is setup. They are free to leave Singapore and go someplace else. If the Philippines instituted some of Singapore’s laws, the country would have been more prosperous than Japan.

      • Antonio

        “If the Philippines instituted some of Singapore’s laws, the country would have been more prosperous than Japan”.

        Japan don’t have these laws and managed to be a prosperous and powerful country, the most egalitarian country in the world without stupid laws. These laws restricting freedom of speech has nothing to do with prosperity anyway, i don’t know what you smoke when posting your comment he,he..

      • Vertumnus

        Japanese are near homogenous people. The culture are such that they adhere to their laws as if they are God’s own words. That same fanatical view that lead them to worship their emperor in decades past. When Japanese law say it’s forbidden, no one questions it.
        You can’t compare Japan and Singapore because unlike Japan, Singapore is populated by different ethnic groups. Their population consist of Chinese, Malay, and Indian.
        Singapore’s near zero tolerance to corruption would greatly benefit the Philippines where corruption is ripe at every stage of government. So ya, their laws would have been good at curtailing corruptions and criminal acts that has stunted the growth and progress of the Philippines.

      • arpeelazaro

        sadly we are not like the singaporeans. easy to say that we adapt their rules but the thing is, even laws and its implementation are cultural. i believe we will become politically mature in time. we are too spread out a country to be ruled like singapore, plus corruption is so instituted that we accept these baluktot principles as the norm, such as political dynasties, et al. soon we will grow up. sana lang abutan ko yun

      • boboposter

        You think Singapore laws are good? Look at how many suicidal people live in Singapore.

        Baka mauna ka pang magpakamatay dyan dahil sobrang mahal ng taxes sa kotse for example.. or hindi ka makapagreklamo sa gobyerno pag nagoyo ka HAHAHA!

      • Vertumnus

        You sound like suicide is not an everyday occurrence. Despite what you say, survey on prosperity and happiness index put Singapore near the top of the list.
        Their per capita income is $62,000 compared to the Philippines $4,600. You tell me which one has better laws that allow their citizens to be so prosperous?

      • boboposter

        Anong happy pinagsasabi mo? Imbento mo? Show some facts boy hahahaha!

        “As for Singapore, this is not the first time it has come in last in a Gallup poll.

        Last month, Singapore ranked as the least emotional country, which measured the daily emotions of people in 150 countries during a three-year period.

        Top 10 happy countries

        Panama (85%)

        Paraguay (85%)

        El Salvador (84%)

        Venezuela (84%)

        Trinidad and Tobago (83%)

        Thailand (83%)

        Guatemala (82%)

        Philippines (82%)

        Ecuador (81%)

        Costa Rica (81%)

        10 least happy countries

        Singapore (46%)

        Armenia (49%)

        Iraq (50%)

        Georgia (52%)

        Yemen (52%)

        Serbia (52%)

        Belarus (53%)

        Lithuania (54%)

        Madagascar (54%)

        Afghanistan (55%)”

      • Vertumnus

        THE 2012 LEGATUM PROSPERITY INDEX ranked Singapore at number 19 out of 142 countries surveyed.
        What’s you beef with Singpore anyway? I never said they were perfect in every way.
        This is the last time I’m responding to you because I’m not in the habit of debating with someone as dull headed as you. Your screen name is quite appropriate for your line of reasoning.

      • boboposter

        Quit na si Vertumnus… mukhang matalino sa pangalan, yun pala walang mapakitang facts HAHAHAHA!

        Vertumnus, bagay sayo dun kasa mga socialist democracies. Mukha ka namang walang utak at susunod sa bawa’t salita ng gobyerno eh HAHAHAHA!

      • Cool LahgotzMO

        COE is imposed to discourage the people to buy a car and take on their efficient transport system instead. Maliit lang ang Singapore, kung katulad sila ng pinas na sige lang ng sige baka wala ka ng makuhang taxi lalo na pag umuulan.

  • Weder-Weder Lang

    WTF! Why does the US keep flip-flopping?

    1985 ==> US deeply concerned by SG’s banning of racist public comments.
    1998 ==> US praised SG to high heavens for avoiding Indonesia’s racial riots.
    1992 ==> US deeply concerned by SG’s anti-chewing gum law.
    2001 ==> US praised SG for being a clean garden city with no sticky chewing gum.
    1993 ==> US deeply concerned by SG’s strict futures & derivatives regulations.
    1995 ==> US grateful to SG’s strict futures & derivatives law for nailing Nick Leeson.
    1993 ==> US deeply concerned by SG’s anti-vandalism law.
    1994 ==> US deeply concerned by SG’s caning of US thief & vandal Michael Fay.
    2004 ==> US deeply regretted unreformed Michael Fay arrested for drug dealing.
    1994 ==> US deeply concerned by SG’s banning of lies in the media (IHT case).
    2008 ==> US expressed admiration for SG as Asian hub for responsible media.
    2012 ==> US deeply concerned by Shane Todd’s suicide in Singapore.
    2013 ==> US deeply confident of SG’s handling of Shane Todd case.
    2013 ==> US deeply concerned by SG’s internet rules.
    2013 ==> US admits to spying US citizens in the absence of internet rules.
    So what’s next?

    • Kronos2

      Hor ironic—-US is concerned of press freedom when freedom of speech while you’re inside the US is not that free anymore.

    • tomahawk3

      who is US anyway? seems to me US is some guy who read the news and act like he represents the US in his own opinion.

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