Parliament: Bills to merge IDA and MDA, and to form new GovTech agency, passed

Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information speaking at an event on Jan 16, 2016.
Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information speaking at an event on Jan 16, 2016.PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

SINGAPORE - Parliament approved new laws on Tuesday (Aug 16) to merge two infocomm and media government agencies into one, and to create a new agency aimed at leading national digitisation efforts.

The Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) Bill officially merges certain functions of the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) and the Media Development Authority (MDA).

Meanwhile, the Government Technology Agency Bill formally legislates the creation of a new GovTech agency that spearheads existing smart nation engineering efforts.

The lines between media and infocomm have converged over recent years, and technological advances in infocomm provides an opportunity for the Government to deliver useful and innovative digital services to the public, Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim explained in Parliament.

IMDA's creation was spurred by the blurring of the traditional divide between these previously distinct industries, said Dr Yaacob. "Our traditional media, telcos and tech companies have expanded into content creation and new media business, and vice versa."

It will build a future-ready Singaporean core for infocomm media by recruiting talent and developing professional skills within the infocomm media sector.

The agency will also take over the regulatory framework currently overseen by IDA and MDA, such as the Telecommunications Act, the Postal Service Act, the Broadcasting Act and the Films Act.

It will also oversee personal data protection regulation , due to the overlap between solutions that enhance data protection and infocomm media technologies.

The new Government Technology Agency, or GovTech, will continue the IDA's existing smart nation engineering efforts.

It will do so by spearheading the delivery of the Government's digital services for citizens, businesses and public sector employees.

GovTech aims to encourage citizen participation in co-developing technologies that can benefit the public by building platforms that facilitate cooperation between citizens and businesses through crowd-sourcing.

The agency will also take the lead to put in place the necessary public infrastructure for Smart Nation, such as the deployment of sensors and the backend data analytics support.