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SINGAPORE: Potential new laws on online safety for social media services

Social media companies offering their services in Singapore must be aware of potential new and far-reaching legislation which was recently tabled for discussion before Parliament.

The Online Safety (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill ("Bill") seeks to regulate Online Communication Services ("OCS"), with a focus on enhancing online safety for Singapore-based users, particularly minors.

OCS are electronic services that allow users to access or communicate content via the Internet or deliver content to end-users – e.g. social media platforms.

Should the Bill be passed as-is, companies offering OCS in Singapore will have to comply with considerable new requirements and implement new processes for their users.   

Under this new regulatory approach:

  • the Infocomm Media Development Authority (“IMDA”) may designate OCS providers with significant reach or impact in Singapore as regulated OCS providers who must comply with relevant Code of Practices.
  • Among other things, the new Codes of Practices will require such OCS providers to implement appropriate measures and safeguards mitigating exposure to harmful online content for Singapore-based users;
  • the IMDA may also issue directions to OCS providers, requiring them to deal with egregious content as follows:
    • to disable access by Singapore users to particular content on the service;
    • to ensure that a specified account which is communicating egregious content will not be able to continue to communicate to Singapore users.

In addition, where an OCS provider fails to comply with IMDA’s directions, directions may also then be issued to internet access service providers requiring them to block access by Singapore users to non-compliant OCS.

Depending on the nature of the offence, failure to comply with these directions may result in an OCS provider being fined up to SGD 1,000,000.

Parliament is slated to debate the Bill at its second reading in November.

Key takeaways

If the Bill is passed in the current form, OCS providers must update their policies and practices to ensure:

  • their compliance with the relevant Code of Practice; and
  • that there are appropriate escalation procedures when directions are issued by the IMDA to the OCS.

The Bill may be accessed here.

Social media services with significant reach in Singapore will need to implement measures to limit local users' exposure to harmful content and be more accountable to users...

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singapore, online safety, social media, social media companies, legal updates

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