Media laws to be amended to address changes in tech: Yaacob

Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim. (PHOTO: Associated Press)

Singapore’s Films Act and Broadcasting Act will be amended to accommodate changes in technology, said Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim.

According to a Straits Times report on Sunday (8 January), Yaacob said that the government has a duty to ensure that media accessible here does not undermine racial and religious harmony or national security. He made these comments during an interview with Malay daily Berita Harian.

The minister added that the definition of what a film is has become less clear at a time when people can shoot videos on their smartphones.

 “Anybody can be a filmmaker. Films can be distributed and transmitted via the Internet. It’s a totally different regime,” he said.

Yaacob also spoke of the need to change the law to ensure that content ratings of streaming sites – such as Netflix – are in line with Singapore norms.

He added that the trend of more people watching movies “in their home, over the Internet (and) through their TV” meant that any update to the laws regulating films in Singapore is timely, while also acknowledging that certain content – such as YouTube videos – will be difficult to regulate.

Other priorities

Introducing a cyber-security Bill and building up manpower to meet the needs of Singapore’s infocomm technology (ICT) industry are two other priorities that Yaacob’s ministry will focus on this year.

The Republic does not currently have any laws governing cyber security.

Once passed, the new cyber-security law will give the government powers to audit business sectors and organisations to ensure that they have cyber-defence systems in place. It will also define the government’s powers when it comes to dealing with matters such as large-scale cyber attacks.

Yaacob’s ministry will also work to ensure that there is a steady stream of graduates, along with those switching careers, to fill the job gaps in the ICT industry, which is already facing a manpower shortage.

“By 2020, we’ll create 30,000 jobs but we need people for those jobs. We need to make sure there’ll be enough Singaporeans to come in,” he said.