The FreeMyInternet group issued the following statement in response to the Media Development Authority’s request for political news website Mothership to register under the Broadcasting Act.
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The FreeMyInternet group is disappointed by the move made by the Media Development Authority requesting for news website Mothership to register under the Broadcasting Act.
Many concerns about the way the Broadcasting Act has been applied to The Independent Singapore and Breakfast Network remain in the case of Mothership.
First, MDA has imposed the regulation without clear indication that Mothership has foreign sponsors. If this were the case, we hope that MDA will show proof of this link. Otherwise, registering a website based on possibility is not sound policy, and only encourages the view that the government holds bias towards any media and evolving media environment it is unfamiliar with.
Second, this being the third website that MDA has attempted to register under the revised guidelines, there is still no clarity, in terms of publicly available information, of the criteria that govern the registration of websites. This impedes the development of a vibrant online space where independent websites are genuine in seeking to be financially sustainable. We continue to hope that MDA will take its role as a developer of the online space more seriously.
And third, we remain concerned about the government seeking continued and increasing regulation of the online space. It should seek engagement-by-default over regulation, should it encounter contrarian voices online, as a hallmark of progressive governance.
The FreeMyInternet group continues to call for the cessation of regulation under the new licencing regime. We remain ready for open dialogue with MDA on issues relating to the amendments of the Broadcasting Act, for a more diverse and open media space, one that is based on encouraging responsibility rather than imposing regulation.
The FreeMyInternet movement was founded by a collective of bloggers who are against the licensing requirements imposed by the Singapore government on 1 June 2013, which requires online news sites to put up a performance bond of S$50,000 and comply within 24 hours to remove content that is found to be in breach of content standards. The group believes this to be an attempt at censorship and an infringement on the rights of Singaporeans to access information online and calls for a withdrawal of this licensing regime.