Global Web giants express concerns over news licensing rule in Singapore

Google and are among those banding together in opposition to a new licensing rule over online news content.

Five Silicon Valley giants are banding together to voice their concern regarding a new online content licensing rule in Singapore that has sparked a dramatic debate during the last few months.

As noted by a Yahoo News report from the Southeast Asian republic on Wednesday, the Asia Internet Coalition (AIC), comprising Facebook, Google,, eBay, and parent company Yahoo wrote a letter to the government expressing their concern in mid-June. The industry association was officially launched in 2011 to "promote the understanding and resolution of Internet policy issues in the Asia-Pacific region.

To recall, it was reported in late May that the the Singapore government was introducing a new licensing rule for online news sites.

The regulation required that online news outlets covering local "news and current affairs" would need individual licenses to do so if they met two main criteria as outlined by the government's content regulator, the Media Development Authority (MDA).

More specifically, Web sites that published one article per week on Singapore news over the course of two months -- or had at least 50,000 unique visitors from Singapore each month over a two month period -- would also require an individual license. Any content deemed "prohibited" would be forcibly removed within 24 hours of notice as well.

On top of all this, the digital news outlets would be required to pay $50,000 in local currency for a license.

The AIC penned a letter in mid-June to the Singapore Ministry of Communications and Information, positing such a rule could "could unintentionally hamper Singapore’s ability to continue to drive innovation, develop key industries in the technology space and attract investment in this key sector" as well as negatively impact Singapore's global image.

Yahoo News reported that the Singapore government agency responded on Tuesday, although it doesn't look like the tech giants' memo made much of a dent.

Here's more:

According to a spokesperson for the ministry, the MCI responded that Singapore's "light touch approach" in regulating the Internet "has not changed" with the individual licensing regime.

Reiterating that the individual licensing scheme is in place to "ensure greater parity for news providers across traditional and online media platforms", the spokesperson said the ministry explained that the content standards serve to address only "core content concerns", and that they protect "fundamentals most important to the Singapore society".

To reach the AIC's entire letter, scroll through the document below:

Asia Internet Coalition memo


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