Strengthening regulation and cyber security for industry and consumer
RESPONSE BY MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION AT THE COMMITTEE OF SUPPLY DEBATE ON 10 MAR 2014
I thank Mr Zaqy Mohamad for reinforcing the importance of media content regulation. Our media landscape is constantly evolving. Technological advancements and demographic shifts require us to constantly update our media content standards and regulatory frameworks, especially in light of media convergence, which has created opportunities and challenges for the consumer, the industry and the regulator.
Principles behind content regulation
2 Let me first emphasise that our content regulatory framework has always been and will continue to be guided by three fundamental principles. Firstly, we need to protect the young while providing more choices for adults. Secondly, we need to uphold community values and support racial and religious harmony. And finally, we need to safeguard our national and public interest.
Updating our content regulation standards
3 These principles form the basis of media classification, which defines the age-suitability of media content through the use of an age-rating system, accompanied by access controls for mature content, and consumer advisories to facilitate informed media consumption choices. Our approach so far has largely been platform-specific, based on the principle that content on platforms with higher reach and impact should be subject to more stringent regulatory requirements. Therefore, the Media Development Authority (or MDA) maintains 14 sets of content codes spelling out the guidelines for different types of media services, ranging from TV, films, games, publications, the arts and the Internet.
4 However, we recognise that such an approach needs to evolve with media convergence, where consumers are increasingly able to access the same content across different platforms. In 2011, MDA had taken the initial steps by harmonising the classification framework for films and broadcast content.
5 More recently, the Media Convergence Review Panel recommended that a consistent age-based classification system be adopted across different mediums, including for higher ratings which signal the presence of mature content.
6 MDA will therefore launch a Content Standards Study in the second half of the year to assess whether we need to further harmonise our ratings system across the different mediums. The Study will also assess whether existing content standards and policies remain in line with community expectations. To give you a sense of where we are today, this slide shows the various classification ratings that currently apply to the various media platforms. As I mentioned earlier, the ratings for TV and films had already been harmonised in 2011.
7 In addition, we are reviewing our media legislation and regulatory frameworks to ensure their relevance in this media-convergent environment. The review of the Broadcasting Act is ongoing. We target to hold public consultation on the key amendments later this year, before we finalise them. I would like to encourage the Internet community and other stakeholders to give their inputs during the public consultation.
8 Moving on to cyber-security, I share Mr Zaqy Mohamad’s concerns on cyber threats. The Government takes a serious view of cyber threats and remains vigilant to cyber attacks targeted at Government ICT systems. We have been actively monitoring online threats including the tweet storm in early-2014. This tweet storm did not affect Government ICT infrastructure.
9 Cyber security has always been an important priority. Since the 1st Infocomm Security Masterplan was launched in 2005, the Government has been stepping up our infocomm security measures. Our measures are multi-layered and constantly updated to meet the changes in technologies and risks. We have a Cyber Watch Centre which provides 24/7 monitoring of cyber threats to government ICT systems. The Government will be enhancing the Centre with a wider range of monitoring capabilities. Baseline security requirements have also been raised to match the level of cyber threats. For example, agencies will patch and update their systems more frequently.
10 But hackers do not target only the Government. Cyber attacks can come from anywhere and attack any system in the world. Hence, it is important for businesses and individuals to have greater awareness of cyber threats. Businesses and individuals can protect themselves by adopting essential practices found in the “Go Safe Online” website. This is also one of the key focus areas of the National Cyber Security Masterplan launched in July 2013. We are also looking into growing Singapore’s pool of infocomm security experts under the masterplan. This complements our work with the National Research Foundation to build up Singapore’s cyber security research and development capability.
QoS / Drop call rates
11 Ms Lee Li Lian raised the issue of quality of service (or QoS). Singapore is one of the few countries to impose QoS standards on telecommunication services for compliance purposes. Some countries impose such standards where available for monitoring purposes. Our QoS framework incorporates recommendations from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), such as coverage, drop call and call success rates.
12 Since the enhanced 3G QoS framework came into effect in April 2012, all three mobile telephone operators (MTOs) have met IDA’s QoS standards on call success and drop call rates. Their performances are independently verified by IDA. IDA audits the operators’ network traffic logs to validate the operators’ call success and drop call rates. IDA also conducts independent sampling checks on drop call rates across the island, including roads and MRT tunnels. IDA also regularly reviews the QoS frameworks to ensure that the MTOs continue to enhance and optimise their networks to further improve their call success and drop call performance.
13 The member has several questions which are technical in nature and I hope that she can file a parliamentary question (PQ) so that I can give her a more elaborate response. On her question on M1, it is possible that even if your mobile network coverage may be weaker in certain locations, calls do not drop due to the sufficiency of channels.
14 Let me conclude by reiterating that the Government remains committed to keeping our media content regulations in line with community expectations, strengthening our cyber security, and ensuring a high quality of service among our mobile operators. Let me now move on to our programmes and initiatives to enhance the quality of life for our people.