Online Citizen appeals to parliament to scrap licensing rules for online news reporting

Free My Internet protestA free-press activist group has appealed to the Singapore government to scrap new rules for news websites it says straightjacket how Singapore-related stories are reported online.

The Online Citizen – which has organised a blogger blackout, a petition and a street demonstration to counter the new regime since it was announced at the end of May and came into effect on 1 June – today sent an 11-page policy brief to members of parliament calling on them to repeal the new licensing regime.

The paper says the new rules – which require popular news websites that report on Singapore issues to have a license and pay a ‘performance bond’ – were implemented without warning, lack transparency and hinder Singapore’s prospects for becoming a global digital hub.

In an email to contacts, The Online Citizen said that it had been “encouraged” by feedback from “some parliamentarians” who wanted to raise this issue when parliament next convenes on Monday 8 July.

The paper, under the banner of the #FreeMyInternet campaign, points out that during a policy debate show on ChannelNews Asia soon after the rules were announced, public opinion swung from believing the regime would not limit online news content to believing it would.

“It is clear that most Singaporeans recognise the chilling effect of the new licensing rules and the potential for unjustifiable censorship and abuse,” the paper concluded.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella Asia newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing