Bloggers stage protest against Government's website licensing rules

A group of bloggers staged a protest on Saturday afternoon at Speakers' Corner in Hong Lim Park against the government's newly-introduced rules for news websites.

The protest, which at the start attracted 1,000 people as estimated by the organisers, kicked off at 4.15pm with speeches by Andrew Loh, editor of Public House; blogger Ravi Philemon; and Richard Wan, editor of TR Emeritus.

They called on the Government to withdraw the new rules of the Media Development Authority which kicked in on June 1.

These require news websites to apply for an individual licence if they carry at least one Singapore news story a week and have at least 50,000 unique visitors from Singapore a month.

The websites also have to take down prohibited content such as pornographic and racially or religiously offensive content within 24 hours of being informed by the authorities.

Mr Wan said there is no need for these rules as laws already exist prohibiting seditious content and rumour-mongering.

The speakers also said that with the broad phrasing of the rules, any website could fall under the ambit of the new rules.

The Government has asked 10 sites to apply for licences. They are owned by Singapore Press Holdings, MediaCorp, and Yahoo.

Blog are not covered by the rules and none of the websites taking part in the protest has been asked to apply for a licence.

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