To promote a “culture of cyber wellness”, the Singapore government will direct internet service providers (ISPs) to offer “opt-in internet filters”. This new measure will complement the existing “100-website ban”, according to the city-state's Acting Minister for Information, Communications, and the Arts, Lui Tuck Yew.
Announcing the government's response to the Censorship Review Committee's recommendations, the Minister said such internet filters, while not being 100-per cent foolproof, would still be “useful tools” by which parents and adults could limit access by the young to undesirable content.
The government did not fully accept the panel's recommendation that a filtering system replace the “100-website ban”. The ban now applies to sites that incite racial and religious intolerance, promote terrorism and extremism and purvey pornographic content.
The continuation of the ban was packaged on these lines: “Some have questioned the practical value of the ban [asking] whether it will lead to a false sense of security. We acknowledge that the technologically savvy among us will be able to circumvent this ban and that there are many more than 100 such websites out there. But we will retain it, not so much for its functional usefulness, rather as a symbolic statement of our society's values.” The opinion survey by the committee also reflected support among the population for the retention of this ban, the Minister said.
On film censorship, the government decided to introduce a “PG 13 rating” for the suitability of viewing by teenagers under parental guidance. And, the video industry itself would now be allowed to classify films in guidance categories.
On “R21 films” for adult audiences, the Minister ruled out the sale of such videos in Singapore. In a “carefully calibrated” move, the government “proposes to allow access to such material in the home environment, limited to video on demand [facility] with the necessary parental locks and other safeguards in place”.
A “term licensing scheme” would now be implemented in the arts entertainment sector. And, “invited arts groups will no longer be required to have their scripts and materials pre-vetted.”
In opting for a measured response to the panel's recommendations, within the framework of Singapore's values over time, the government was guided by the principle that “we should move with rather than move ahead of society,” said Mr. Lui.