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(Image by u/bindingofsemen / Reddit and WATAIN / Facebook)

Was the ‘Ban WATAIN’ petition falsely inflated with stolen emails?

If you thought you’ve heard the last of Swedish heavy metal band, Watain, think again – well, this new issue is related to Watain but not about them specifically.

The band was due to perform in Singapore on 7 March but the Info-Communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) revoked their permission for the performance on the morning of the concert, after being advised by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to do so. There was also a petition started online before the cancellation calling for the government to band the musicians. The petition garnered over 16,000 signatures.

The MHA has insisted that their decision to advice IMDA to cancel the band’s concert had nothing to do with the petition. Instead, they cited the band’s history of promoting violence and being offensive towards Christians and Jews as the reason for the cancellation. The only found this out after conducting a further security assessment. The cancellation was in the interest of maintaining public order and religious and social harmony in Singapore, said MHA.

Following the cancellation, a new petition was formed to urge the government to lift the ban on WATAIN and allow them to perform their concert as originally allowed by IMDA. This petition is now at over 4,500 signatures.

Curiously, a user on reddit shared that when he went onto Change.org to sign the petition to reinstate WATAIN, the site showed that he has apparently also signed the first petition to ban the band, even though he had not done it. Someone had apparently signed the Ban WATAIN petition using this person’s email address.

Someone suggested that this could have been a result of a data breach in other sites, revealing this particular user’s email thus allowing an anonymous person to use it on the petition.

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However, another person also shared that the same thing happened to them. A few people suggested that this hints at foul play in how those signatures were obtained in the first place, saying that the numbers of signatures on original petition might be inflated with stolen emails.

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Now, while the MHA insists that the original petition had no bearing on their decision to cancel WATAIN’s concert, the question remains: why did the IMDA allow the concert in the first place only to cancel it later once the petition had garnered significant traction in Singapore?

How many of those 16,000+ signatures are genuine?