Singapore govt considering new laws against harmful online content; 'not every platform puts society's interests first', says minister

Examples of harmful online content that the laws would target include violent extremist propaganda. ― Unsplash pic via TODAY
Examples of harmful online content that the laws would target include violent extremist propaganda. ― Unsplash pic via TODAY

Subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates on news you need to know.


SINGAPORE, March 2 — The government is considering new laws to deal with harmful content spread through internet platforms, said Second Minister of Home Affairs Josephine Teo yesterday. 

Examples of harmful online content that the laws would target include violent extremist propaganda, such as the livestreaming of the 2019 Christchurch shootings and the shooter’s manifesto, and voyeuristic material and intimate images that are disseminated without consent, she said.

Speaking in Parliament during the debate on the Ministry of Home Affairs’ budget for the upcoming financial year, Teo said the ministry has been working with the Ministry of Communications and Information to study the experiences and regulatory models in other countries, and they are reviewing their options. 

“This may include new regulatory levers, to enable us to deal with serious online harms effectively,” she said. 

She noted that some online platforms have tried to deal with harmful content, adding: “But not every platform puts society’s interests first. This is to be expected – platforms are driven by their own values and commercial interests.”

And so, some countries have introduced legislation to deal with this problem, she said.

For instance, Germany has passed legislation requiring platforms to respond to user complaints about unlawful content, while the United Kingdom and Australia are considering legislation to deal with online harms, including measures to take down or block access to harmful content. 

Teo said that many technology companies have acknowledged the need for regulation, even though they disagree with governments on how the legislation should be designed. 

Online platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, have come under fire internationally for not having done enough to stop disinformation and extremist content from going viral. 

In the case of the Christchurch shootings, even though online these platforms took down video footage of the shooting, it was still widely available hours after being first uploaded onto the shooter’s account. 

The footage radicalised a 16-year-old Singaporean Protestant Christian who was detained in December last year, after he was found to have made detailed plans to attack two mosques here. ― TODAY

Related Articles