Singapore, known for its strict regulations and policies, maintains a list of websites that are blocked within its borders for various reasons, including concerns related to legality, morality, and public interest. This article explores the categories of websites that are typically blocked in Singapore, the methods used to circumvent these restrictions, and notable developments in website blocking over the years.
Categories of Blocked Websites in Singapore:
1. Unlicensed Gambling: Singapore takes a strong stance against unlicensed gambling websites. These platforms are considered illegal and are blocked to protect citizens from potential scams and fraudulent activities.
2. Copyright Infringement/Piracy: Websites that facilitate copyright infringement or piracy by hosting or distributing copyrighted content without authorization are subject to blocking. This is done to safeguard the rights of content creators and copyright holders.
3. Pornography: Websites featuring explicit adult content, commonly referred to as pornography, are blocked to maintain societal values and protect minors from exposure to inappropriate material.
4. Spreading Falsehoods: Websites that are known for disseminating false information, fake news, or engaging in harmful propaganda may be restricted to prevent the spread of misinformation and protect public perception.
Methods to Circumvent Blocked Websites in Singapore:
While the Singaporean government maintains a strict stance on website blocking, some individuals and organizations employ methods to bypass these restrictions. One common method is to change the Domain Name System (DNS) settings to use either Google DNS or OpenDNS. This can be done on an individual computer or by changing the DNS settings on a router, allowing multiple devices to access blocked content. However, it’s important to note that circumventing website blocks may still be subject to legal consequences.
Development of Website Blocking in Singapore:
The practice of blocking websites in Singapore has evolved over the years. In 2018, a significant ruling eliminated the need for copyright holders to file separate court applications to block alternate web addresses associated with piracy websites. This streamlined the process of combating copyright infringement.
The initial court order for website blocking dates back to October 2014 when 53 piracy websites were blocked. In February 2022, an additional 150 websites faced similar restrictions. Major internet service providers in Singapore, such as M1, SingTel, StarHub, MyRepublic, and ViewQuest, comply with these court orders by blocking access to specified websites. However, TPG Telecom takes a different approach, allowing access to pirated websites while blocking others.
Furthermore, in November 2019, a joint effort between the police and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) led to the blocking of 202 vice-related websites, reflecting Singapore’s commitment to maintaining moral and ethical standards online.
Notable Examples of Blocked Websites in Singapore:
Here are some notable examples of websites that have been blocked in Singapore, along with their respective categories and reasons:
1. KickAssTorrents and The Pirate Bay: These torrent index websites were blocked due to copyright infringement and piracy concerns under the Copyright Act, starting in May 2018.
2. Playboy: The American men’s lifestyle and entertainment magazine, known for its nudity, was blocked in 1996.
3. RedTube and YouPorn: These pornography video-sharing sites were blocked due to explicit adult content, with restrictions imposed in June 2008.