Alarm bells rang among the Singaporean online community as the government revealed a new licensing scheme for news websites that could potentially give a heavy blow to grassroots citizen journalism.
The Media Development Authority (MDA) has announced that Singaporean news websites with about 50,000 unique hits a month will now require individual licences to operate.
These licenses come with a 50,000-Singapore dollar (US $39,500) “performance bond” and a commitment to take down anything deemed to be in breach of content standards within 24 hours.
Ten websites were singled out in the MDA’s announcement as being in need of individual licences. Only one of them – Yahoo! Singapore – does not belong to a local mainstream media outlet. Yet the outcry among Singaporeans has shown that no one really believes the government will stop at these ten.