These regulations, which target websites that report on Singapore related news at least once a week, and attracts visitors from 50,000 unique Singapore IP addresses every month, will require online news sites to put up a S$50,000 “performance bond” and to remove any content found to be in breach of MDA’s standards. So far, MDA has identified ten websites that will have to comply, including Yahoo! News Singapore.
According to MDA, the new rules will put online news sites “on a more consistent regulatory framework with traditional news platforms which are already individually licensed.”
Naturally, the move is being seen by many as political censorship, and has even attracted international attention, including from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Authorities, however, insist that the regulations are not intended as a clampdown on alternative voices.
This “blackout”, reminiscent of the protests against SOPA and PIPA back in January 2012, is organised by the “Free My Internet” movement, a group of netizens who has decried the new regulations and is calling for its abolishment. The group is also organising a physical protest to be held at Hong Lim Park this Saturday.
Needless to say, the Internet is virtually impossible to control, and it remains to be seen how exactly the Singapore government intends to enforce these new regulations.