Singapore approves 'foreign interference' bill, critics slam move

WION Web Team
Singapore Published: Oct 05, 2021, 01:03 PM(IST)

Singapore has passed Foreign Interference Countermeasures Act (FICA) Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

The new law allows authorities to compel internet service providers and social media platforms to provide user information

Singapore's parliament passed a law aimed at preventing foreign interference in domestic politics even as the opposition and activists criticised the move.

The new law allows authorities to compel internet service providers and social media platforms to provide user information, block content and remove applications used to spread content they deem hostile.

Also Read: Singapore news site suspended, critics fear censorship

The bill was passed with a 75-11 voting margin. K Shanmugam, law and home affairs minister, said: "The internet has created a powerful new medium for subversion... countries are actively developing attack and defence capabilities as an arm of warfare."

The law known as Foreign Interference Countermeasures Act (FICA) gives power to authorities to compel internet service providers to give user information to the authorities and even block content.

Also Read: Singapore trials patrol robots to deter bad social behaviour

The authorities can also remove applications. The law also has provision for a person to be categorised under "politically significant persons" which would require disclosure of foreign funding sources with violators set to get prison terms or fines upon conviction.

The law also allows cases to be heard by a tribunal and not a court during an appeal in a move which the government says is essential to protect national security.

K Shanmugam defended the government's move in the country's parliament saying: "As long as they are done in an open and transparent manner, and not part of an attempt to manipulate our political discourse or undermine public interest such as security."

However, Human Rights Watch hit against the move assering that it is a "bogeyman to justify expanded persecution of opposition politicians, civil society activists and independent media"

The rights group said Singapore's "international reputation will take the hardest knock from the new law".

(With inputs from Agencies)

Read in App