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Singapore proposes new law to tackle harmful online content

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Singapore (AFP) – Social media sites could be blocked or fined in Singapore if they fail to prevent users in the tightly controlled country from accessing ‘harmful’ content under a bill introduced in parliament on Monday .

Under the bill, regulators can order social media platforms to block “flagrant content”, including posts advocating violence and terrorism or depictions of child sexual exploitation.

Content that poses a risk to public health or is likely to cause racial and religious discord in Singapore is also included, the Ministry of Communications and Information said in a statement on Monday.

“While some online services have made efforts to address harmful content, the prevalence of harmful online content remains a concern, given the high level of digital penetration and widespread use of online services among Internet users. Singapore, including children,” the ministry said.

Regulators can also order platforms to block access to a specific account by users in Singapore, but the orders will not apply to private communications.

Online communication services “having a significant reach or impact in Singapore” could also be required to introduce measures to prevent Singaporean users, especially children, from accessing harmful content, the ministry said. , without naming the platforms.

Parliament will debate the bill in November. If passed, it would give authorities another tool to police online content.

Last year, Singapore passed a controversial law aimed at preventing foreign interference in domestic politics.

The law allows authorities to compel internet service providers and social media platforms to provide user information, block content, and remove apps used to deliver content they deem hostile.

Three years ago, the city-state passed a law against ‘fake news’, which gives government ministers the power to order social media sites to put warnings next to posts authorities deem to be false. and, in extreme cases, to have them removed.