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Singapore defends Internet licensing rules

in SINGAPORE, 31/05/2013

Singapore's media regulator on Thursday sought to allay fears that a controversial new rule requiring news websites to obtain licences was aimed at stifling Internet freedom. The surprise requirement, which takes effect on Saturday, triggered an outcry in the online community after a popular news site operated by US-based Yahoo! was included among 10 sites subject to licencing.

Websites granted a licence will have to remove "prohibited content" such as articles that undermine "racial or religious harmony" within 24 hours of being notified by the authorities.

"The new framework provides greater clarity on prevailing content standards in the Internet Code of Practice and there is no change in content standards," the MDA said, referring to earlier regulations first issued in 1997.

Under the code, prohibited content includes "material that is objectionable on the grounds of public interest, public morality, public order, public security, national harmony, or is otherwise prohibited by applicable Singapore laws."

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