The parliament has passed the law where social media sites will be held accountable for blocking harmful content. Should a platform refuse to remove the content, the IMDA can ask Internet access service providers to block access in Singapore.
The bill looks to give power to Singapore government to block harmful online content, even if they are created or hosted in foreign countries. Questions were raised as to how authorities would determine "egregious" content, and questions emerged around the realm of private messaging.
Currently, egregious content is being defined as those that advocate terrorism, suicide and self-harm, physical or sexual violence and child sexual exploitation. It will also include content posing a public health risk or those likely to cause racial and religious disharmony in Singapore. When it comes to private messaging, minister Josephine Teo said, due to privacy concerns, the bill does not look to police private communications.
“We are also aware that there are groups with very large memberships, which could be used to propagate egregious content, making them no different from non-private communication on a social media service. In such instances IMDA will be empowered to take the same actions against them,” she clarified.
Points were also raised if online gaming would fall under the bill, and minister Teo said, “ We share their concerns about online gaming. We have been thinking about it and we will share more details when ready. “
Minister Teo added that if too many areas or platforms are covered too soon, without proper scrutiny, the bill could become “unwieldy” and ultimately “ineffective”.
"Our approach has been to identify and address specific areas of harm in a targeted manner. As to whether the laws will be consolidated later, that remains to be seen. At this time, it is more important that we put in place legislation that effectively addresses and combats the respective harms," she said.
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