Monday, 3 June 2013

Singapore bloggers to protest Internet restrictions

May Day Protest at Hong Lim Park against 6.9M Population White Paper

Singapore bloggers are planning a rally and an “Internet blackout” this week to protest controversial new rules they say will muzzle freedom of speech, organisers said Monday.
A coalition of 34 prominent bloggers called “Free My Internet” will stage the rally on Saturday, a week after the surprise regulations kicked in on June 1 requiring news websites — including one operated by US-based Yahoo! — to obtain licenses from the city-state’s official media regulator.

The bloggers will also replace their homepages with black screens featuring the words “#Freemyinternet” for 24 hours on Thursday.

“There is a need for this physical protest because numerous dialogues with the government over the last five years about liberalisation and deregulating the Internet have actually concluded in the opposite,” said Choo Zheng Xi, a spokesman for the group.

“We want the government to know that the people need to be consulted, and that parliament needs to be consulted before sweeping changes are made to legislation,” said Choo, the co-founder of popular political website The Online Citizen.

Volunteer-run blogs have gained popularity as an alternative news and opinion source in Singapore, where the mainstream media is widely perceived as pro-government.
The Media Development Authority (MDA) last week sought to allay fears that the new rules were aimed at the city-state’s feisty blogging community, pointing out that blogs were not considered news portals.

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