Everything About the Government’s Proposal to Disable Certain Harmful Online Contents

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We can look forward to having safer online spaces for us and our younger generations, as the government looks to remove harmful content from the internet.

Here’s everything about the proposed rules for social media platforms.

Required to Implement Moderation Processes

Social media platforms, defined as platforms that allow posting of content with the purposes of online interaction and linking, will be affected under two codes of practice. (And FYI, this doesn’t include messenger applications.)

The first proposal is for social media services to adopt processes to enhance safety for all users. For instance, they would need to implement community standards and content moderation mechanisms that will mitigate exposure of harmful content. This includes sexual, violent, or self-harm content.

IMDA Can Disable Access of Content to Users

The second proposal basically gives our Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) the power to control what content Singaporean users can see.

For instance, IMDA can tell Instagram to disable access to specific content for Singapore users. Or they can direct Twitter to prevent a specific online account from interacting or communicating with Singapore users.

These codes are expected to come under the Broadcasting Act, which has been expanded to cover the Internet Code of Practice.

Calls for More Accountability from Platforms

You may be thinking: hey, if they were going to implement such restrictions, why only do it now?

Well, in recent years, the prevalance of online harm has become a major concern worldwide. And with the pandemic pushing everything online, it has gotten even worse.

The Ministry of Communications and Information said at a press conference on 20 June that online harm could lead to acts of terrorism, extreme violence, or hate crimes toward communities. It could also encourage self-harm, and destabilises our physical and mental well-being.

Additionally, with social media spreading content quickly and widely, these harms are amplified especially on these platforms.

In fact, a survey by the Sunlight Alliance for Action found that 61% of Singaporeans has experienced online harm on social media. These two proposed codes will thus call for greater accountability from social media platforms.

Furthermore, the platforms will have to produce an annual report on the effectiveness of their processes to be shared on IMDA’s website. This will hopefully help to shape a safer, more responsible online space for netizens in Singapore.

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Consulting Tech Industry, Public Consultations to Begin Next Month

The Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo has shared that Singapore is approaching this in a “consultative and collaborative” manner.

This means that the two proposed codes were borne from learning from other countries’ experiences, understanding our people’s needs, as well as engaging tech companies. This will allow MCI to develop laws that are feasible and effective.

In fact, MCI has been conducting consultations with the tech industry since early June. Public consultations are expected to start next month, where you can submit your feedback on the proposed codes of practice.


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