March 28th, 2007

New Media Policy for Singapore

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cac-appreciation.JPGHosted by Dr. Lee Boon Yang, the appreciation lunch today marks the conclusion of the National Internet Advisory Committee and Community Advisory Committee under MDA. For my (little) contribution, I got a nice stationary for Chinese Calligraphy that my wife probably will put into good use.

Today also marks the beginning of two new committees: AIMS, Advisory Committee on Impact of New Media on Society (Ya, I dont know either…) and IMAC, Internet and Media Advisory Committee (Ya, its corny).

AIMS is the higher level committee that will look at New Media on all aspect on society. Their recommendations to MDA/MICA would have significant impact on New Media, including but not limited to the Singapore bloggers.

The Singapore blogosphere is surprisingly quiet about it. I was kind of expecting some knee-jerking reaction on how Singapore government is trying to control the New Media.

Anyway, let me repeat what I said during the Nexus 2007 panel over the weekend: “Singapore has a two-tier media regulation, one set of rules for the Traditional Media and a light-touch approach towards the New Media”.

The two-tier media regulation is worthy of mention because while the traditional media is subjected to a rigid licensing regulation, Internet content is a simple class license (See Internet Code of Practice) instead. Not many people knows that if you put up any content online, you are automatically licensed by MDA under this class license.

While one may argued that it is fundamentally wrong to even regulate media, it is a matter of opinions, varies from people to people and from times to times. But more importantly, a moot point because this is the reality in Singapore.

It is the light-touch towards Internet content that allows us to setup our own blogs, share our photos, make our own funny podcast and upload homemake video to Youtube. These are what most take for granted forgetting that we probably cant do any of these, not without prior permission from the Minister (yes, no kidding).

This is why I also said during Nexus panel : “The government understand the New Media more than the general public gives them credit for”.

Speaking to some of the members of AIMS during lunch, I get the idea that no one knows how it will developed. It is a huge effort with multiple moving pieces (changing technology, changing behavior and thus changing impacts) and even more possible actions, reactions as well as unintended consequences. Maybe the two-tier media policy will go. Maybe the various Media Acts will be changed/updated. Maybe the whole framework will be replace. No one knows.

But I do have confidence in the capability of the people involved in this, that they will strike a fine-balance in our ever changing Media landscape. As liberal and as light-touch as the general public can accept, no more no less.

And yes, the community comments will be very important. So start talking and even better, send emails and letters to them.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with MDA/MICA so everything I wrote here is my own personal views.

January 7th, 2005

IGOVAP Online Forum


I am helping Dieter Zinnbauer to distribute this press release from APDIP. I will be helping them to build up resources on theme area on IDN for them. Please sign up if you like to contribute to the Internet Governance discussion.

Priorities in Internet Governance for the Asia-Pacific Region (IGOVAP): An Online Forum

UNDP’s Asia Pacific Development Information Programme (APDIP) is organising an online debate to facilitate discussion about Internet governance issues and the concerns and needs of AP region stakeholders.

Regional perspectives developed in this debate will help target future research efforts and provide input to the World Summit on the Information Society process and the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG) established by the United Nations Secretary General. The debate is an integral part of and sets the stage for APDIP’s Open Regional Dialogue on Internet Governance (ORDIG). Other major activities under ORDIG, which is supported by the International Development Research Centre of Canada and in which the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Asia Pacific (UN-ESCAP), the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC) and DIPLO Foundation are partners, include a regional multi-stakeholder survey and a community-managed portal on Internet governance priorities for the Asia-Pacific region, as well as research on best practice policies and the development of Internet governance training materials.

APDIP invites all Asia Pacific region stakeholder from government, business and civil society to join the online forum, participate in the conversation and help identify priority concerns and best practices in
Internet governance for the Asia-Pacific region. The forum will be launched on Jan 13 and run for five weeks to Feb 17. An interim rapporteur’s report of the debate will be directly forwarded to the second meeting of the UN Working Group on Internet Governance in Geneva in mid-February. The ideas and resources suggested during the forum will also inform the resource collection for the Internet governance portal that will be developed in parallel to the forum.

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