The Asia Internet Coalition (AIC), a Hong Kong-based association formed by eBay, Facebook, Google, Salesforce and Yahoo, sent a letter in June to Singapore's Minister for Communications and Information (MCI) Yaacob Ibrahim on the new licensing framework for online news sites.
The framework, introduced last month, stipulates that websites with more than 50,000 visits from Singapore and which run more than one news story a week on Singapore must obtain a license and put up a S$50,000 bond, as well as pull prohibited content within 24 hours when told to by the government.
In the letter, the AIC says it is "very concerned by the recent move by the government to introduce a licensing regime for online news sites... this new regulation - and the regulatory trend that this may be indicative of - could unintentionally hamper Singapore's ability to continue to drive innovation, develop key industries in the technology space and attract investment in this key sector."
According to The Breakfast Network, the group's acting director John Ure told Chinese-language newspaper Lianhe Zaobao that the AIC had been in talks with Media Development Authority (MDA) since early June. After the MDA announced the scheme, Mr. Ure said "We were shocked... it made us very worried.. Our position has always been, that this type of policy change should first undergo an industry consultation."
The MCI issued a reply to the AIC on July 2, and a ministry spokesperson outlined its response to Today, and said that "Singapore adopts a light touch approach in regulating the Internet, and this has not changed with the latest tweaks to introduce individual licensing for news sites."
Today has the full text of both the letter from the AIC and the ministry spokesperson's response.