Free speech blogger to Singapore government: Don’t use threats of Anonymous as excuse to restrict internet freedoms

TOC's protest against MDA rule in XXX

Online Citizen’s protest against MDA rules

A free speech activist group in Singapore has moved to distance itself from the actions of hackers, who late last week posted a video threatening the Singapore government and key infrastructure unless it overturned a controversial licensing scheme for online news reporting.

Free speech blogger group The Online Citizen, which has been one of the most vociferous opponents of the licensing regime through its support of the #FreeMyInternet campaign, has said that it hopes that the government does not use the threats by hacker group Anonymous as an excuse to further restrict news reporting on the web in Singapore.

Anonymous posted a video on YouTube last week of a masked figure going by the name of The Messiah, who said: “We demand you reconsider the regulations of your framework or we will be forced to go to war with you.”

Anon: "No government has the right to deprive their citizens the freedom of information," Pic: Yahoo! Singapore

Anon: “No government has the right to deprive their citizens the freedom of information.”

The group then hacked into a blog written by a Straits Times journalist, with a message that accused the paper of misleading its readers in its piece about the YouTube video.

The Online Citizen’s commentaries editor Howard Lee told Mumbrella: “I personally feel that there is a need to distinguish between the actions of ‘The Messiah’ and the FreeMyInternet campaign.”

“The FreeMyInternet group has consistently advocated open and direct engagement with the government on the revisions to the Broadcasting Act, and this remains our key goal,” he said.

Since the introduction of the new licensing system in June, The Online Citizen has organised a public protest, a blogger blackout and a petition, and has sent a policy brief to parliament to voice its opposition to the new rules.

“This approach is vastly different from the threats by ‘The Messiah’, which at present remains vague in their objectives, even as they draw references to the same Act,” Lee said.

“As such, I hope that the authorities will view this incident with the right levelling and mindset – as a possible threat to cyber security, rather than an issue relating to Internet regulation.”

“It would be erroneous and disappointing to those advocating a fair and open approach to online freedom, if this incident were to be taken as an excuse to tighten the government’s control over the Internet.”

The Media Development Authority’s rules stipulate that Singapore’s top ten best-read new sites must delete articles deemed inappropriate in 24 hours and pay a ‘performance bond’.


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