About 1,000 Singaporeans have rallied to protest a new government policy that requires some news websites to obtain licenses.

The policy that took effect this month has triggered criticism that authorities in this Southeast Asian city-state are trying to enforce online media censorship. Officials maintain the rule is not meant to muzzle freedom of expression.

Websites that report regularly on Singaporean news and attract at least 50,000 visitors a month are now required to obtain annual licenses. They must remove any content considered objectionable by the government within 24 hours of notification.

A crowd that gathered at the Speakers’ Corner free speech area of a Singapore park on Saturday listened to bloggers and other speakers denounce the regulation. One man held a poster that read, “Internet censorship - Worst idea ever.”