A new censorship board, Government Technology Agency (GovTech), was created yesterday (Aug 16) in Parliament by merging the Infocomm Development Authority, Cyber Security Agency and Media Development Authority (MDA). The convergence of the two government agencies will empower existing censorship powers and make it easier for the Singapore government to charge Singaporeans for criticisms.
Incorporating the MDA, it is understood the GovTech will be monitoring the internet for comments that criticise the regime, especially those that infringes the newly-created Contempt of Court law – a new bill criminalising the criticisms of Singapore judiciary passed just only yesterday (Aug 16).
The Singapore government will have greater power to access individual’s privacy, and apply greater pressure on social media corporations like Facebook and Google to reveal private information. Private information requests made by the Singapore government are mostly unrevealed but given the Prime Minister’s recent moves to clamp down on political comments, it is clear anonymous profiles that criticise the government are the main targets.
According to state media The Straits Times:
“The agency will also take over the regulatory framework currently overseen by IDA and MDA, such as the Telecommunications Act, the Postal Service Act, the Broadcasting Act and the Films Act.
It will also oversee personal data protection regulation , due to the overlap between solutions that enhance data protection and infocomm media technologies.”
Like China, the Singapore government hires a team of full-time anonymous internet users known as the Internet Brigade (IB). The IB’s role is important in modern information war against independent news sites that do not comply with the censorship laws. IB members, typically from the PAP grassroots, defame critics and spread falsehoods propagated by the government-controlled mainstream media. Leading the pack is the Fabrications About the PAP Facebook page, set up by an ex-Malaysian Singaporean who never served National Service.