Jun 05, 2013

    Light touch on Web to continue

    THE Government's new licensing framework for news websites is not a "fundamental shift" in policy and is in line with its "light touch" approach to regulating the Internet, said Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim yesterday.

    "Like our regulations in the physical world, our regulations for the online space are meant to ensure that people are responsible for their actions, which have real-world consequences," he said.

    Speaking to reporters, Dr Yaacob addressed concerns raised by segments of the online community following the framework's announcement.

    On May 28, the Media Development Authority (MDA) announced that news websites which report regularly on Singapore issues and have a significant reach will have to be individually licensed, similar to traditional media like newspapers and TV.

    The ruling, which took effect last Saturday, will affect 10 news websites which meet the criteria.

    Under the ruling, the sites have to post a $50,000 performance bond, and are required to remove content which is in breach of standards within 24 hours, upon MDA's direction.

    Dr Yaacob gave his assurance that, except for the 10 websites identified, other online sites, including blogs, will be able to operate the way they do currently.

    He explained that all online sites are already class-licensed.

    "So if you are a site giving your own commentary on an issue you are not comfortable with, (and if) you disagree with the Government, you can still continue because you are not a news site," Dr Yaacob said.

    He also said that there is no subsequent tranche of sites that have been identified for future licensing.

    Dr Yaacob said: "We want the online community to understand that this is not an attempt to clamp down on anybody.

    "This is really to ensure that those who are in the business of reporting news do it responsibly."