202 vice websites blocked by police and IMDA so far: Shanmugam

Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam addresses Parliament on 4 November, 2019. (PHOTO: Parliament screengrab)

SINGAPORE — To date, 202 vice websites have been blocked by the police and the Infocomm Media Development Authority, said the Minister for Home Affairs and Law K Shanmugam on Tuesday (5 November).

He was responding to Jurong GRC Member of Parliament (MP) Rahayu Rahzam’s parliamentary question on efforts and safe guards by the government against vice activities peddled on web forums.

The government adopts a multi-pronged approach against online vice, said Shanmugam in the written reply.

Apart from authorities “regularly” blocking vice websites targeting Singaporeans, the police also conduct regular enforcement operations to disrupt and deter vice activities including those conducted via online platforms, he added.

For example, a joint operation with China’s Ministry of Public Security against a transnational online vice syndicate in November last year led to the arrest of 201 persons in both countries and the shutting down of a website that advertised sexual services in Singapore.

“The MHA takes a tough stance against vice, and in fact is proposing amendments to the Women’s Charter this month to further strengthen our levers against online vice syndicates,” said Shanmugam.

The Nee Soon GRC MP also highlighted the government’s efforts in promoting the safe and responsible use of the Internet.

For instance, the public is encouraged to report any criminal or suspicious activities they see, such as the operation of online platforms that promote vice activities, by calling 1800-255-0000, submitting the information via Police’s i-Witness, or lodging a report in person at a police station. 

Another example would be the launch of the Digital Media and Information Literacy Framework in July. The framework aims to cultivate a basic understanding of how to use technology safely and responsibly, among other objectives.

The community, parents and organisations, such as the Media Literacy Council (MLC), also play a critical role in this issue, said Shanmugam.

“The MLC has provided information for youths and parents on how to deal with inappropriate online content, such as pornography and sexting, and produced resources to teach youths ways to safeguard themselves against sexual grooming and sexual predators.”

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