Bloggers say AIMS report can be improved
03 September 2008 2123 hrs (SST)
SINGAPORE: Singapore's prominent bloggers said the recommendations put out by the Advisory Council on the Impact of New Media on Society (AIMS) are progressive, but can be improved.
These 13 bloggers submitted their own report to the government in April, and the group explained the rationale behind their proposals to the media on Wednesday.
Calling themselves "The Bloggers 13", they said the AIMS report was silent on several aspects.
Alex Au, editor, yawningbread.org, said: "We think that AIMS should have given more emphasis on the principled reasons why there should be deregulation. We feel it's important to have free speech and our regulations should reflect that."
Given the borderless nature of the Internet, the group said it cannot be governed. Instead of a formal regulation by the Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA), they suggest letting the online community moderate themselves.
"We dislike the way that a lot of administrative discretion is given to the MDA. We suggested that the MDA's role should be much, much reduced," said Mr Au.
The bloggers are also pushing for a repeal of Section 33 of the Films Act, which bans political films. They said it is not practical, given that such films can find their way on video-sharing sites like YouTube.
On the bloggers' proposals, AIMS said their feedback would be considered in its final report. The council also added that in many ways, it agreed with the bloggers on the general direction to take.
The question is in the pace of change. For some, the government is seen as playing catch-up with the tremendous speed at which the Internet is changing.
Arun Mahizhnan, deputy director, Institute of Policy Studies, said: "Just like the state, the bloggers are also addressing real issues, complex issues... The state has a collective interest and the bloggers are not just talking about the bloggers' interest, they are talking about Singaporeans' interest.
"Therefore, there are some differences in opinions, and I think both are reasonable positions and this needs to be looked at further."
On the issue of community moderation, Mr Arun said there is room for that in Singapore.
"We have learnt from other countries' experience that the Internet community is not entirely mad. There are a lot of sane and sensible people who can intervene... there is definitely room for community moderation as long as there is provision for legal action when it crosses the line," he said.
Members of the public can give their feedback on the AIMS report at www.aims.org.sg. The council will submit its final report to the government by November.