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Official Reply from Singapore Government on the Proposals for Internet Freedom

Here is an archive on the government's response to the proposals for internet freedom which I have collaborated with other bloggers in 2008. The proposal is one of the best work that I have done and some of my contributions are turned into policy later.

For those who wonder about the progress of the proposal, Ms Bhavani from MICA representing the Minister of Information, Communication and the Arts have responded to us on the proposals and said that they will review the suggestions made on the proposals. There is a ST report "Government looking at Lighter Touch"  by Zakir Hussain narrating about the responses between MICA and the bloggers on the proposal. The engagement between MICA and us has been cordial and positive and that’s a good starting point for proper debate in our society. From reading the response, my opinion is that they would at least review what we have proposed.  We have to wait and see what their eventual policy decisions may be, given that the report by Advisory Council on the Impact  of  New Media on Society (AIMS) is about to be submitted. In any case, both groups (the bloggers and AIMS) have been in contact, and have exchanged notes among each other through various closed door sessions on regulation issues in Institute of Policy Studies or private emails. Meanwhile, check out Alex’s article on "The pigeons are among us already", Clarissa Onn’s "Bureaucratic ambiguity and Internet freedom" and Mohan’s "Maintaining Racial and Religious Harmony through Criminal Law". The full text for official email reply can be found in E-Jay’s SGPoilitics.net. I have attached a copy here.

Official Reply from Ms Bhavani to Alex Au (on behalf of the bloggers):

Dear Mr Au,

My  Minister would like to thank you and your blogger friends for the effort  in putting up the proposals for Internet deregulation which you had emailed to him on 20 April 2008.

MICA is well aware of the fact that Internet and new media technology have  evolved  by  leaps  and  bounds  since  we introduced our light-touch approach  in 1996.  Back then, MICA had recognised the potential growth and impact  of the Internet, and the tremendous opportunities and benefits that it  will  bring  to  all of us.  We were also wary of its negative aspects. Hence,  our  response  to  the  Internet was to take a balanced light-touch approach.   Our  intent  with  this  light-touch approach was to foster the growth of the Internet and to enable us to exploit its vast potential while safeguarding  our  society  from its undesirable aspects.   That 79% of our households  subscribe  to  broadband  and  many Singaporeans especially the younger citizens  own  a  blog  or  participate  in some form of new media clearly show that the light-touch approach had not been without merit.

To  keep  up with the fast-evolving new media landscape, we have been reviewing  our light-touch approach and are considering how we could take a lighter  touch  approach.   We  have  appointed the Advisory Council on the Impact  of  New Media on Society (AIMS) in April last year to study the new media and how best to refine our regulatory framework.

We will consider  the  views  expressed  in your proposal and other feedback in our review.

Yours sincerely
Press Secretary
to the Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts