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Singapore Set to Increase Control Over Online Content

SINGAPORE—The nation’s legislature authorised a invoice that targets international affect campaigns by giving Singapore’s authorities new powers over web content material, regardless of criticism that officers might use them to stifle dissent.

Proponents mentioned the invoice, which was handed late Monday and awaits the president’s signature, would cease foreigners and their native proxies from utilizing social media and messaging apps to intrude in Singapore’s affairs. Opponents mentioned it simply as simply might permit the federal government of the Southeast Asian nation, ruled since independence by a single party, to dam the views of critics, reduce their funding and eavesdrop on their on-line actions.

International locations around the globe are debating how one can cease web meddling by international governments, following instances corresponding to Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

“The web has created a strong new medium for subversion,” mentioned Legislation and House Affairs Minister

Okay. Shanmugam

in Monday’s parliamentary debate. “International locations are actively growing assault and protection capabilities, as an arm of warfare equal to and stronger than their land, air and naval forces.”

The Overseas Interference (Countermeasures) Act would give Singapore’s House Affairs Ministry new powers over social-media corporations and others that host internet content material. The ministry might order the businesses at hand over particulars about their customers, block content material judged to be a safety danger and take away apps.

The ministry might additionally designate individuals and entities as “politically vital individuals” after which get them organized to reveal and probably surrender international funding.

Mr. Shanmugam, the Legislation and House Affairs minister, cited the case of

Huang Jing,

a Chinese language-American educational who was expelled from Singapore in 2017 due to allegations he collaborated with international intelligence brokers to affect authorities officers. The Singapore authorities didn’t specify which nation he was accused of aiding.

The ruling occasion’s management of Parliament enabled it to beat objections from opposition lawmakers after a 10-hour debate.

Critics mentioned the invoice would grant the House Affairs Ministry an excessive amount of discretion with out judicial oversight. They mentioned it may very well be used towards lecturers, nonprofit teams and journalists. France-based advocacy group Reporters With out Borders referred to as it a “authorized monstrosity with totalitarian leanings.”

“If we settle for that such broad-ranging, broadly outlined powers needs to be legislated to cope with international interference, then this home should make sure the laws of equally sturdy oversight mechanisms to forestall abuse of energy,” opposition chief

Pritam Singh

mentioned in the course of the debate.

In 2019, Singapore enacted a similarly contentious law concentrating on what it referred to as on-line falsehoods. That legislation required news retailers and social-media platforms corresponding to

Facebook

to publish corrections hooked up to content material the federal government deemed false. 

Write to Feliz Solomon at feliz.solomon@wsj.com

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https://www.wsj.com/articles/singapore-set-to-increase-control-over-online-content-11633427068 | Singapore Set to Enhance Management Over On-line Content material

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