Singapore’s Online Safety Code comes into effect July 18

Singapore’s Online Safety Code comes into effect July 18

SINGAPORE — The Online Safety Code mitigates the risks from harmful social media content to Singapore users, especially children, by requiring designated Social Media Services (“SMSs”) to enhance online safety and curb the spread of harmful content on their services which will take effect from July 18, 2023.

The Code of Practice for Online Safety (“Online Safety Code”) is issued by Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).

The categories of harmful content covered by the Code are: Sexual content, Violent content, Suicide and self-harm content, Cyberbullying content, Content endangering public health, and Content facilitating vice and organised crime.

Designation of Social Media Services to comply with the Online Safety Code

The Online Safety (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act, which took effect on 1 February 2023, introduced a new part to the Broadcasting Act to tackle harmful content on online services accessible to Singapore users.

It empowers IMDA to designate SMSs with significant reach or impact in Singapore to comply with online Codes of Practice such as this Online Safety Code.

The designated SMSs are Facebook, HardwareZone, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube.

IMDA has taken a multi-pronged approach to developing and refining the Online Safety Code, which includes extensive consultation with various stakeholders, such as the public, academics, and industry, to understand public concerns and operational considerations.

In particular, the designated SMSs were engaged extensively and were invited to submit formal responses to the Online Safety Code.

Key requirements of the Online Safety Code

Designated SMSs have to:

  1. Minimise Singapore users’ exposure to harmful content, with additional protection for children
    • Put in place systems and processes to tackle harmful content, including community guidelines and effective content moderation measures.
    • Users will be empowered with tools to manage their own safety. These may include tools to hide harmful content and unwanted interactions, limit location sharing and the visibility of their accounts from other users.
    • Apply age-appropriate policies to accounts belonging to children, including having a set of community guidelines appropriate for children, content moderation, and online safety information that children can easily understand. Accounts belonging to children must not receive advertisements, promoted content and content recommendations that designated SMSs are reasonably aware to be detrimental to children’s physical or mental well-being.
    • Put in place tools for parents/guardians to manage their children’s safety, such as tools to manage the content that their children view, the public visibility of their accounts, parties who can contact and interact with them and location sharing.
  2. Empower Singapore users with effective and easy-to-use reporting mechanisms to report harmful content or unwanted interactions
    • Take appropriate action on user reports in a timely and diligent manner, and inform these users of their decision and any action taken in response to their reports.
  3. Be accountable to Singapore users by providing transparency on their measures and levels of safety in annual online safety reports
    • Publish annual online safety reports online, to help users make an informed choice on which designated SMS would be best placed to provide a safe user experience. The first annual online safety reports are required to be submitted in the second half of 2024, and will be published on the IMDA website. These annual online safety reports will provide information about measures designated SMSs have put in place to combat harmful content and how Singapore users’ experience on the services has been.

Tackling the threat of harmful online content is a global issue that requires a whole-of-society effort. The Singapore Government has strengthened our regulatory framework and will continue its efforts in ensuring that regulatory and public education measures can address the growing range of harmful online content and protect Singapore users against online harms.

IMDA will continue to work closely with SMSs to enhance Singapore’s Online Safety.

Source– IMDA


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