[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
Fwd: Singapore struggles to control cyberspace, from HKStandard
- To: "Mailingliste FITUG-debate" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Subject: Fwd: Singapore struggles to control cyberspace, from HKStandard
- From: "Gunnar Anzinger" <email@example.com>
- Date: Fri, 18 Oct 96 11:58:24 +0200
- Comment: This message comes from the debate mailing list.
- Priority: Normal
- Reply-To: "Gunnar Anzinger" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Sender: email@example.com
==================BEGIN FORWARDED MESSAGE==================
>Date: Thu, 17 Oct 1996 19:27:19 -0700 (PDT)
>From: Declan McCullagh <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>Subject: Singapore struggles to control cyberspace, from HKStandard
More at http://www.eff.org/~declan/global/ --Declan
Singapore struggles to control cyberspace
SINGAPORE: Singapore, famous for its social order and regulation, is
struggling to control the chaos of the Internet.
Determined to make the tiny city-state ``an information hub'', in the
words of Information and Arts Minister George Yeo, Singapore is
linking every household through a vast network of high capacity
coaxial cables and super-computers.
Once completed, access to the global computer network will be 1,000
times faster than through normal telephone connections.
Over 150,000 of Singapore's 750,000 households are already on line and
all three million people should be tied in by 1999.
But with this information revolution comes new challenges, testing
Singapore's famous social order, which has been carefully cultivated
by the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) since the country's
independence in 1965.
Long used to a strictly controlled local press and restrictions on
many foreign publications, Singaporeans suddenly have virtually open
access to news, information, films and, most worrying to the
This was not the what the government had in mind.
``We want businessmen to invest in the Internet and develop new
software,'' Mr Yeo said in recent interview. ``We want the department
stores and the purveyors of goods and services to make most use of the
Worried by lack of control, Singapore has announced measures to try to
curb local access to ``undesireable'' Internet sites.
The Singapore Broadcasting Authority (SBA) licences just three
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) for domestic subscribers, all units
of government-linked companies, including state telephone company
All three have installed ``proxy servers'', giant computers capable of
blocking sites the SBA wants banned.
Singapore-based groups wanting to produce pages for the Internet's
most popular forum, the World Wide Web, must also register with the
SBA and can expect careful vetting if they trespass into the political
or religious arena.
But the anarchic Internet, which lacks any central authority, appears
to be defeating most attempts at control.
``It is impossible to block every site,'' said Ong Su Mann, editor of
the Singapore edition of Asia Online magazine.
``Some adult sites have been blocked _ Playboy, for example _ but if
you are someone that seeks out adult sites, all you need to do is use
a search engine (software search device) such as Yahoo! or Infoseek
and type in a word like `sex' or 'nudity','' he said.
A recent key-word search in Singapore for sites with ``sex'' in the
title found 22,797 responses, many offering free access to
pornographic pictures, videos or interactive chat-lines. A similar
search for ``nudity'' found 88,100 sites.
The biggest problem for would-be regulators is the Internet's size.
With worldwide connections fast approaching 100 million, and new users
coming in by tens of thousands every day, there are simply too many
sites to police.
Even if authorities were able to monitor and shut down offensive sites
as fast as they appeared, users could simply dodge local controls by
dialing into an Internet node in another country at international
phone rates that are falling fast.
Faced with these hurdles, the Singapore authorities have decided to
pick off what they say are the worst sites with ``mass impact'' at
source, while attempting to curb access to pornography by encouraging
control at a local level.
SBA chief executive officer Goh Liang Kwang says it has banned ``just
a few dozen sites'', all of them pornographic.
``We want parents and teachers to put in their own measures like
desk-top software such as `SurfWatch' and `Net Nanny','' Mr Goh told
Reuters in an interview.
Knowing it cannot block the overwhelming majority of sites on the
Internet it dislikes and realising it is impractical to interfere with
key-word searches, the SBA is making a gesture, which it hopes
Singaporeans will respond to, Mr Goh says.
On a political level, the governing PAP has set up its own Internet
sites to counter ``misinformation'' about Singapore.
But opponents of censorship scent victory.
``There is already plenty of censorship in Singapore,'' said Alex
Chacko, publisher of several books about Singapore life which he says
have incurred official displeasure.
``We've had problems in the past getting reviewed in Singapore ... Now
we use the Internet.'' _ Reuter
===================END FORWARDED MESSAGE===================