1. The Online Safety (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act, which was passed in Parliament on 9 November 2022, will take effect from 1 February 2023.
2. To enhance online safety for Singapore users, the amendments were made after extensive consultation with multiple stakeholders including parents, youth, community group representatives, academics and industry.
3. With this Act, a new part has been introduced to the Broadcasting Act (BA) to regulate Online Communication Services (OCSs) accessible by Singapore users. The regulations will apply to OCSs specified in a Schedule under the BA. As a start, only Social Media Services (SMS) have been specified and subject to provisions under the new part.
Enhancing online safety for Singapore users
4. With the new Act in force, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) can issue directions to disable access by Singapore users to egregious content found on OCSs. Egregious content includes content advocating or instructing on suicide or self-harm, physical or sexual violence and terrorism; content depicting child sexual exploitation; content posing public health risks in Singapore; and content likely to cause racial and religious disharmony in Singapore.
5. The three types of directions that IMDA can issue are as follows:
a. A direction to an OCS provider to disable access by Singapore users to the egregious content on the service. This requires the OCS provider to ensure that the specified egregious content (for instance, a particular post) cannot be viewed by Singapore users.
b. A direction to an OCS provider to stop the delivery or communication of content to Singapore users. This can be effected by blocking flow of content from a specified source on the OCS provider (for instance, an account, group or channel) which is communicating the specified egregious content.
c. A direction can be issued to an Internet access service provider to block access by Singapore users to the non-compliant OCS if the OCS provider fails to comply with IMDA’s direction(s).
Codes of Practice
6. IMDA may also designate OCSs with significant reach or impact as Regulated Online Communication Services (ROCSs). The ROCS providers will be required to comply with Codes of Practice which may require them to put in place systems and processes on their services to mitigate the risks of danger to Singapore users from exposure to harmful content and provide accountability to their users on such measures.
7. IMDA has proposed a Code of Practice for Online Safety for designated SMS. A draft version of the Code has been published on IMDA’s website, with further industry consultations planned. The Code is expected to be implemented in the second half of 2023.
8. More information on the Act and the draft Code of Practice for Online Safety can be found in Annex.