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Singapore online news sites rules ‘restrictive’: US

SINGAPORE — The United States has said is it “deeply concerned” about the new licensing regime for online news sites, calling it a “restrictive” policy.

Photo: Reuters

Photo: Reuters

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SINGAPORE — The United States has said is it “deeply concerned” about the new licensing regime for online news sites, calling it a “restrictive” policy. US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said yesterday (July 8): “We urge Singapore to ensure that freedom of expression is protected in accordance with its international obligations and commitments. “We closely monitor and often speak out, as you all know, on both Internet freedom and media freedom throughout the world. This case is no different, and we’re concerned, of course, to see Singapore applying press restrictions to the online world.” Last month, the Media Development Authority (MDA) announced that 10 websites — owned by MediaCorp, Singapore Press Holdings and Yahoo! News Singapore — would be required to apply for individual licence. The criteria for a news site to be licensed are: It has 50,000 unique Singapore visitors each month over a period of two months and publishes an average of at least one article a week on Singapore’s news and current affairs over the same period. Netizens have protested against the rules and the Asia Internet Coalition (AIC) — formed by eBay, Facebook, Google, Salesforce and Yahoo! — sent a strongly-worded letter to Minister for Communications and Information, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, saying that the regime would have a “significant chilling effect” on innovation by introducing “ambiguous and onerous” conditions. Yesterday in Parliament, Dr Yaacob stressed that Internet freedom would not be curtailed for blogs. The new rules “only applies to a small number of news sites and does not affect the overwhelming majority of Internet content providers”, he told the House, adding that it would not “impact the public in general”.

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