SBA safeguards community interest through Internet regulation

NEWS RELEASE

DATE OF ISSUE
THURSDAY, 11 JULY 1996

SBA SAFEGUARDS COMMUNITY INTEREST THROUGH INTERNET REGULATION

The Singapore Broadcasting Authority (SBA) held a press conference to announce the Class Licence Scheme for regulating the Internet today. It reiterated its commitment to safeguard the interest of the Internet community while promoting the healthy development of the industry.

2. The press conference was chaired by the Chief Executive Officer of SBA, Mr Goh Liang Kwang. It is a follow up to the announcement by the Minister for Information and the Arts, BG George Yeo, in early March this year on SBA's intention to regulate the Internet.

3. The Class Licence Scheme aims to encourage responsible use of the Internet while facilitating its healthy development in Singapore. It encourages minimum standards in cyberspace and seeks to protect Net users, particularly the young, against the broadcast of unlawful or objectionable materials.

4. In drawing up the Class Licence Scheme, SBA has consulted Internet service operators and other key players in the industry on workable solutions which allow some control over the parts of the Internet important to us, without impeding the industry's healthy development. SBA will focus on content which may undermine public morals, political stability and religious harmony of Singapore. However, SBA recognises that it is impossible to regulate the Internet fully. Our
licence conditions are directed at what is necessary and possible. As technology evolves, so will our regulatory framework.

5. The success of the Internet regulation will depend very much on industry self-regulation and community action. Singaporeans can help SBA in the identification of objectionable sites in order to keep cyberspace clean. SBA welcomes public feedback on objectionable content found on the Internet. Members of the public can write to SBA, call its toll-free hotline at 1800-273 3592 or post their views on the SBA homepage at http://www.gov.sg/sba.

6. To assist SBA in formulating an optimum regulatory framework, the Ministry of Information and The Arts will appoint an Electronic Information Services Advisory Council (lnfoCouncil) to address issues concerning the Internet and related electronic information services.

7. Details on the Class Licence Scheme is at Annex A. Licensees are required to abide by the licence conditions laid down for the class (see Annex B) and SBA's Internet Content Guidelines (see Annex C). Service Providers are also required to institute Acceptable Use Policies for Internet account holders. Attached at Annexes D and E respectively are a summary table on those parties which will be affected by the Class Licence Scheme and the requirements imposed on them in terms of content management.

8. The Class Licence Scheme takes effect on Monday, 15 July 1996.

Contact Person: Ahmad Shuhaimi
Management Executive (Public Relations)
Singapore Broadcasting Authority
Tel: 373 0856
Fax: 276 2238


ANNEX A

THE CLASS LICENSE SCHEME

Introduction

The Class Licence Scheme is intended to be an automatic licensing scheme where services under the class license automatically deemed to be licensed and they have to comply with the licence conditions required for the class. This class licence mechanism is aimed at reducing operational and administrative load of licensees so that they do not have to individually approach SBA for a licence.

2. The Class Licence Scheme will cover Internet Service Providers and Internet Content Providers.

Internet Service Providers (ISPs)

3. There are three classifications of ISPs, namely, Internet Access Service Providers (IASPs), Localised Internet Services Resellers and Non-Localised Internet Service Resellers.

4. Internet Access Service Providers (IASPs) refer to the three IASPs licensed under Section 26 of the Telecommunications Authority of Singapore (TAS) Act, namely Singnet, Pacific Internet and Cyberway.

Localised Internet Service Resellers refer to service providers who provide Internet services to the public at specific locations, e.g. cybercafes, libraries, community centres and schools. Non-localised Internet Service Resellers are network services which obtain Internet access from the IASPs and resell subscriptions to the public, e.g. Singapore Network Services and National Computer Systems.

5. SBA recognises that it would be impossible to actively monitor the Internet to pre-censor objectionable sites. As such, ISPs will only be required to block out objectionable sites as directed by SBA. For services that involve subscription, such as newsgroups, ISPs will be required to exercise judgement on which services to subscribe to, in accordance with SBA's Content Guidelines (see Annex C).

6. The vast number of sites and the dynamic nature of Internet makes it impossible to achieve full control at IASP level. SBA encourages other ISPs to supplement the IASP controls with additional controls at their networks.

7. Localised Internet Service Providers and parents are encouraged to use softwares such as NetNanny, Surfwatch, CyberPatrol or Net Shepherd to guard against access to objectionable materials. SBA encourages the development of such access control devices.

8. As an additional measure to protect young Internet users, schools, libraries and other ISPs which provide Internet access to children are required to institute a tighter level of control. SBA is presently working with the Ministry of Education and National Library to identify options for implementing an acceptable level of control.

Internet Content Providers (ICPs)

9. An ICP is any person who provides information on the World Wide Web including web publishers (e.g. Silkroute Venture, iMedia) and web server administrators (e.g. National Computer Systems, Sembawang Media)

10. SBA will focus its regulatory efforts on groups which provide content on an organised basis. Individuals who put up webpages will be exempted from the class licence scheme, unless they are operating these web pages for business, political and religious purposes.

Registration

11. All ISPs will be required to register with SBA. ICPs will not be required to register except for:
i) Political party/parties registered in Singapore who provide page(s) on the World Wide Web through the Internet;
ii) Group/groups of persons engaged in political or religious discussions related to Singapore on the World Wide Web;
iii) Individuals providing web pages for political or religious purposes and who are notified by SBA to register, and
iv) On-line newspapers targeting sales in Singapore through Internet and which are notified by SBA to register.

12. Registration serves to reinforce responsible use of the medium and ensure that discussions are conducted in a mature fashion without harmful intent. Political and religious organisations are free to conduct discussions provided they guard against breaking the law or disrupting social harmony.

13. Registration forms can be obtained from:
a) SBA, 1 Maritime Square, World Trade Centre, #09-59, Singapore 099253. (Tel: 373 0867 / Fax: 278 6008)
b) SBA's homepage on the Internet (http://www.gov.sg/sba)

14. Licensees who are required to register with SBA must do so within 14 days from 15 July 1996 or.14 days from the commencement of their new service.

15. All queries regarding registration can be directed to Ms Angela Goh at Tel no: 373 0867.

Licence Fee

16. IASPs and Internet Service Resellers providing more than 500 accounts to the public are required to pay an annual fee of S$1000. Smaller-scale Internet Service Resellers and Localised Internet Service Providers are required to pay a nominal annual charge of S$100 per premise.

Other Licensable Services

17. In addition to ISPs and ICPs, the Class Licence Scheme will also affect the following groups of broadcast services:
a) Audiotext services
b) Videotext services
c) Teletext services
d) Broadcast data services
e) VAN (Value-added network) computer on-line services (such as bulletin boards i.e. BBSs)

18. Currently, the above-mentioned services are required to apply to SBA for a licence to operate. Under the new Class Licence Scheme, they will be automatically licensed and will no longer need to approach SBA individually. Services currently granted exemption from SBA licensing will be automatically deemed to come under the Class Licence Scheme, unless they are in the exemption list at Part B of Annex D.

19. Copies of the Class Licence Scheme Notification and Conditions will be available at SBA, the Singapore National Printers and on SBA's website at http://www.gov.sg/sba from 15 July 1996.

ANNEX B

THE SCHEDULE

CONDITIONS OF CLASS LICENSE

1. In this license -

"license" means a person who provides a licensable broadcasting service that is subject to a class license under section 21 of the Act;

"newspaper" means any publication containing news, intelligence, reports of occurrences, or any remarks, observations or comments and published in any form, for sale or free distribution, at regular intervals or otehrwwise, but does not include any publication published by or for the Government;

"service' means a licensable broadcasting service that is subject to a class licence under section 21 of the Act.

2. (1) An Internet Service Provider shall -

(a) register with the Authority within 14 days of 15th July 1996, or in the case of an Internet Service Provider who provides the service after 15th July 1996, within 14 days of providing the service;

(b) faithfully and truthfully furnish such information, and furnish such undertakings, as the Authority may require in
connection with the provision of the Internet Service Provider's service; and

(c) pay the following licence fees:
(i) for the provision of a computer on-line service by an Internet Access Service Provider, $1000 per annum;
(ii) for the provision of a computer on-line service by a Non-localiscd Internet Service Reseller -
(A) where the service is provided to 500 user-accounts, $1000 per annum; and
(B) where the service is provided to less than 500 user-accounts, $100 per annum, and
(iii) for the provision of computer on-line service by a Localised Internet Service Reseller, $100 per annum for each premises at which the computer on-line services is provided.

(2) Sub-paragraph (1) does not apply to a Localised Internet Service ReseIler who, in the opinion of the Authority, provides
Internet services -
(a) for purposes only incidental its primary business; or
(b) for purposes of demonstration only on an occasional basis.

3. An Internet Content Provider who is or is determined by the Authority to be -
(a) a political party registered in Singapore providing any programme on World Wide Web through the Internet ; or
(b) a body of persons engaged in the propagation, promotion or discussion of political or religious issues relating to
Singapore on World Wide Web through the Internet, shall register with the Authority within 14 days from 15th July
1996 or, in the case of an Internet Content Provider who provides the service after 15th July 1996, 14 days after the commencement of its service, or within such longer time as the Authority may permit.

4. If required by the Authority to do so by notice in writing -
(a) an Internet Content Provider who is, or is determined by the Authority to be, in the business of providing through the Internet an on-line newspaper for a subscription fee or other consideration; and
(b) an Internet Content Provider who is, or is determined by the Authority to be, an individual providing any programme, for the propagation, promotion or discussion of political or religious issues relating to Singapore, on the World Wide Web through the Internet, shall register with the Authority within the time stipulated by the Authority in the notice.

5. An Internet Content Provider who is required to register under paragraph 3 or 4 shall faithfully and truthfully furnish such information, and furnish such undertakings, as the Authority may require in connection with the provision of the Internet Content Provider's service.

6. A licensee who is required to register with the Authority under paragraph 2, 3, or 4 shall give the Authority 14 days written notice of its intention to terminate the provision of its service.

7. A licensee shall at all times comply with the laws of Singapore.

8. A licensee shall -

(a) assist the Authority in the investigation into -
(i) any breach of its licence; or
(ii) any alleged violation of any law committed by the licensee or by any other person, and

(b) produce such information, records, documents, data or other materials as may be required by the Authority for the
purpose of the investigation.

9. A licensee who intends to broadcast its service on -
(a) a radio frequency;
(b) any spare capacity or sub-carrier on a television or radio channel; or
(c) television lines in the Vertical Blanking Interval, shall, before the commencement of the broadcast of its service, inform the Authority of its intention to broadcast its service by such means and obtain all approvals as the Authority may, direct for the broadcast of its service by such means.

10. The Licensee shall keep, and furnish to the Authority all information, records, documents, data or other materials concerning or relating to the provision of its service as the Authority may, from time to time, require.

11. A licensee shalI use its best efforts
(a) to ensure that its service complies with such Codes of Practice as the Authority may issue from time to time; and
(b) to ensure that it service is not used for any purpose, and does not contain any programme that -
(i) is against the public interest, public order or national harmony; or
(ii) offends against good taste or decency.

12. An Internet Content Provider who provides a webpage on the World Wide Web through the Internet to which other persons are invited to contribute or post programmes shall use its best efforts to ensure that such programmes conform with such applicable Codes of Practice as the Authority may issue from time to time.

13. A licensee who provides a licensable broadcasting service under paragraph 3(a) to (e) of the Notification, shall -

(a) ensure that its service is not used for, or in furtherance of games and lotteries, the conduct of which is an offence under the Common Gaming Houses Act (Cap.49), unless the licensee is exempted from provisions of that Act;

(b) avoid the broadcast of horse-racing analyses, commentaries or tips, other than horse-racing results, for the purpose of gambling;

(c) ensure that its service is not used to advertise, provide or otherwise promote -
(i) astrology, geomancy, palmistry; or
(ii) any other type of fortune-telling device;

(d) ensure that its service is not used for the solicitation of prostitution, or for any other immoral activity;

(e) ensure that any professional advice, or any specialist consultancy service, offered on its service are offered by persons with qualifications recognised by the relevant professional bodies in Singapore

(f) in the case of the broadcast of sound recordings, ensure that only sound recordings that are acceptable to the censorship section of the Ministry of Information and the Arts are broadcast ; and

(g) in the case of the broadcast of films or video recordings, ensure that only films and video recordings that are approved by the Board of Film Censors are broadcast, unless the film or video recording is one to which the Films Act (Cap. 107) does not apply or is one which is exempted from the provision of that Act.

14. A licensee shall remove, or prohibit the broadcast of the whole or any part of a programme included in its service if the Authority informs the licensee -

(a) that the broadcast of the whole or part of the programme is contrary to a Code of Practice applicable to the licensee; or

(b) that the broadcast of the programme -
(i) is against the public interest, public order or national harmony; or
(ii) offends against good taste or decency.

15. If any doubt arises over whether a licensee has used its best efforts in compliance with the conditions of this licence, the licensee shall be treated as having used its best efforts if it satisfies the Authority that it took all reasonable steps in the circumstances.

16. Nothing in these conditions of the class licence shall exempt the licensee from complying with the requirements of any other written law relating to provision of the licensee's service.


ANNEX C

SINGAPORE BROADCASTING AUTHORITY
INTERNET CONTENT GUIDELINES

Preamble

The Internet is a valuable communication and research tool. The Authority shall continue to promote its use in the dissemination of information and the exchange of ideas.

2. It is the Authority's duty to safeguard the national interest of Singapore and to ensure that the benefits of the Internet are harnessed for the general good of our society. The Authority believes that regulating the Internet would aid in the development of a healthy Internet culture where responsible use of the positive aspects of the Internet is the norm.

3. All licensed Internet service providers and Internet content providers are required to comply with these content guidelines and to satisfy the Authority that they have taken adequate steps to fulfil this requirement.

The Internet Content Guidelines

The following Internet contents should not be allowed:

4. Public Security and National Defence
a. Contents which jeopardise public security or national defence.
b. Contents which undermine the public confidence in the administration of justice.
c. Contents which present information or events in such a way that alarms or misleads all or any of the public.
d. Contents which tend to bring the Government into hatred or contempt, or which excite disaffection against the
Government.

5. Racial and Religious Harmony
a. Contents which denigrate or satirise any racial or religious group.
b. Contents which bring any race or religion into hatred or resentment.
c. Contents which promote religious deviations or occult practices such as Satanism.

6 Public Morals
a. Contents which are pornographic or otherwise obscene.
b. Contents which propagate permissiveness or promiscuity.
c. Contents which depict or propagate gross exploitation of violence, nudity, sex or horror.
d. Contents which depict or propagate sexual perversions such as homosexuality, lesbianism, and paedophilia.




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