Questions raised over Singapore’s new regime for online news

WAN logoThe World Association of Newspapers says it hopes Singapore’s decision to impose a new licensing system on popular online news websites will not be used to “intimidate critical voices”.

The Media Development Authority announced a new licensing system for news websites that report on Singapore issues and get more 50,000 monthly unique visitors late on Tuesday, which will mean those websites need to heed any calls from the MDA to remove content it believes breaches its standards within 24 hours.

Breaches include stories that go ”against public interest, public order, public security, national harmony, public morality”.

These sites, which include,, and – also have to pay a S$50,000 “performance bond”.

The only site without a media license currently is Yahoo! Singapore. The MDA has yet to inform Yahoo! on the terms of the license.

A WAN spokesman told Mumbrella: “Singapore showed good judgment when it acknowledged that at least tolerating a free and open internet was necessary if it wished to realize its ambitions to become a digital media hub.”

“But the new licensing scheme flies in the face of that approach – we hope it will not be used to silence and intimidate critical voices,” he said.

The MDA had not responded to Mumbrella’s request for comment at the time of writing, but has told other sources that the new rules are not intended to limit internet freedom in Singapore.

According to ChannelNews Asia, the MDA said the new framework “provides greater clarity on prevailing content standards in the Internet Code of Practice” and that there would no change to content standards in Singapore.


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