The Singapore government is mulling over plans to block websites that offer pirated content including movies and music, along with other efforts to curb online piracy.
At a parliament session Monday, Senior Minister of State for Law Indranee Rajah said her ministry was in discussions with other government agencies to assess the use of "site blocking" as a way to make copyright infringing material less accessible online. The government will "carefully consider" how exactly this will be implemented over the next few months, consulting with the industry and public on the issue, reported local newspaper The Straits Times.
Noting that "no one single measure" can address the problem, Rajah said site-blocking measures will be part of other efforts to curb content piracy in Singapore, including public education and making legitimate content more affordable.
However, she added, blocking offending websites will help restrict access to pirated content. For example, traffic to Pirate Bay dipped by 69 percent within a year after five European nations restricted access to the website, she said, citing findings from a report by International Federation of the Phonographic industry.
The site is popular among consumers who download copyright infringing content including music, films, and e-books. Just last week, Italy ordered Internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to Pirate Bay and four other file-sharing sites, although some these remained accessible through proxy servers.
In August, Pirate Bay released what it described as a "simple one-click" tool to circumvent website blocking. Called PirateBrowser, it is a customized Firefox browser that allows users to bypass blockades in certain countries including North Korea, Belgium, Finland, Denmark, and Italy.
An industry group, however, in April warned that technical measures such as website blocking were "possibly repressive" and would not be effective in fighting online piracy. Representing over 1,800 ISPs, broadband providers, and telcos, EuroISPA said fundamental rights of privacy and innovation would be "severely at risk" if Internet entities were required to conduct surveillance or censor the Web under "vested interests" and "outside judicial safeguards". The group also noted that digital music piracy had little or no effect on legal digital music sales.
Singapore's law enforcement authorities over the years have raided companies and retail stores in a bid to stamp out software piracy, including a 2011 haul at a manufacturing company which uncovered S$1.4 million worth of unlicensed software.