Government subjects news websites to licencing requirement

first_img SingaporeAsia – Pacific Receive email alerts May 30, 2013 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Government subjects news websites to licencing requirement RSF’s denounces Singapore’s disregard of press freedom ahead of its Universal Periodic Review RSF_en October 15, 2020 Find out more News News Organisation SingaporeAsia – Pacific to go furthercenter_img Help by sharing this information News Singaporean website prosecuted over election coverage Follow the news on Singapore Reporters Without Borders is appalled to learn that Singapore’s leading news websites will have to apply to the city-state’s Media Development Authority (MDA) for a publishing licence.According to the MDA, which regulates the media, news websites with a Singaporean IP address and more than 50,000 visitors a month will have to obtain a licence from 1 June in order to continue operating.“While it is understandable that radio and TV stations should be licenced, because of the limited number of broadcast channels and the need to regulate frequencies, imposing a licencing system on news websites is utterly absurd and cannot be justified by a need for a ‘more consistent regulatory framework,’ as the MDA has suggested,” Reporters Without Borders said.“This measure violates the principle of media freedom enshrined in article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which functions as an international standard for 160 countries even if Singapore has not signed it. The criteria used to define which sites need licenses are also highly questionable and are indicative of a desire to exercise prior control over news and information.“The authorities are almost certainly trying to increase their ability to censor websites that cover local events and have a significant impact on public opinion. Making these sites deposit a ‘performance’ bond will probably also lead to self-censorship, especially by sites that do not charge and whose income barely covers their operating costs.”Reporters Without Borders added: “We urge the Media Development Authority to rescind this measure, which runs counter to the principles of freedom of information, freedom of the media and freedom of expression.”News websites are currently registered automatically under the Broadcasting Act, which will have to be amended to take account of the new regulations. Under the new rules, news websites that post more than one article a week on Singapore and have more than 50,000 unique Singaporean visitors a month over a period of two months will need an individual licence whose conditions include “a performance bond” of 50,000 Singaporean dollars (39,500 US dollars).Sites will be regarded as “news websites” if they post political, social or economic content, or any other content about Singapore, in any language and regardless of whether or not they charge for content.For the time being, the licencing requirement is limited to “local” sites under Singaporean jurisdiction. Ten sites are already known to be affected – the local version of Yahoo! (sg.news.yahoo.com) and nine sites owned by Singapore Press Holdings or Mediacorp. “Local” is understood to mean sites with the Singaporean country domain name “.sg” even if they are owned by foreign companies.Communication and information minister Yaacob Ibrahim said the Broadcasting Act would be amended by next year to included news websites based aboard that target the Singaporean market. Each licence will be issued for a year, at the end of which the MDA will decide whether it should be renewed.Licenced sites will be required to remove “prohibited content” such as articles “undermining racial or religious harmony” with 24 hours of being notified by the authorities. The MDA insists that the existing news content guidelines have not been changed. Nonetheless, the deadline for removing prohibited content is new. Singapore is ranked 149th out of 179 countries in the 2013 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index. October 2, 2020 Find out more News Coronavirus: State measures must not allow surveillance of journalists and their sources April 10, 2020 Find out morelast_img read more

PROMISING PRACTICES FOR PANDEMIC PLANNING Kansas launches assessment tool to gauge needs of at-risk groups

first_imgEditor’s Note: CIDRAP’s Public Health Practices online database showcases peer-reviewed practices, including useful tools to help others with their planning. This article is one of a biweekly series exploring the development of these practices. We hope that describing the process and context of these practices enhances pandemic planning.Mar 10, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – Public health officials in Kansas recently took a key step toward incorporating vulnerable populations into pandemic readiness efforts: They launched an online toolkit that streamlines the needs assessments across diverse parts of the state.Intensified efforts to assess pandemic readiness needs, even down to the individual household level for vulnerable groups such as older people and those who have disabilities, happened to occur as natural disasters hit Kansas hard.Edie Snethen is executive director for the Kansas Association of Local Health Departments (KALHD), the Topeka-based group that is offering the toolkit as a component of its vulnerable populations outreach. KALHD provides services, including technical assistance, to 100 health departments across the state. “In Kansas,” Snethen said, “we have had an incredible number of natural disasters, so that brings the vulnerable populations issue to the forefront.”In 2007, nearly 100 of the 105 counties in Kansas had some type of declared natural disaster, Snethen said. In May, deadly tornadoes killed 11 people and destroyed the town of Greensburg. Soon after, the same weather patterns produced massive flooding across parts of Kansas, followed by another round of flooding in June. And in December, icy winter storms immobilized some counties and led to prolonged power outages for thousands of residents.”This helped create an awareness about what worked and what didn’t work,” Snethen said.In some states, such as Kansas, threats like bioterrorism aren’t very real to residents, she said. “But in a rural community, these other threats are very real,” she said, adding that the weather events can create teachable moments about preparedness, not only for government and public health officials, but also for the populations they serve.A look inside the toolkitThe Special Needs Populations Assessment Toolkit is connected to broader efforts at KALHD that use geographic information system (GIS) mapping to assist with pandemic influenza response. Snethen said the GIS maps initially included just licensed facilities, such as nursing homes, that house vulnerable population groups. However, ongoing efforts will involve adding information to the GIS mapping that is gleaned from special needs assessments of communities and households.”So often public health workers spend so much time gathering information that they don’t have time to use it,” Snethen said. “In this instance, time is spent using the information.”The assessment toolkit is a four-tiered grouping that includes forms for communities, agencies, and households. The kit includes two versions of the household needs assessment, one of which is an abridged survey in a brochure format. (The kit also includes Spanish translations of the assessment tools.)The community needs tool helps localities identify their unique populations and existing resources and then determine their capabilities, gaps, and educational needs. The agency form is designed to promote partnerships with other groups that serve special needs population. Local planners can use the household tool to assess the needs and gaps of those they serve.The assessment tools were developed for KALHD by Sherry Angell, RN, as a Capstone Project for a public health fellowship she is working on through the Kansas Public Health Leadership Institute. Angell is regional coordinator at the North Central Kansas Public Health Initiative in Beloit, Kan., an organization that provides support services to 13 area public health departments.Angell, in a report she wrote for her project, said combining GIS technology with assessments, surveys, and registries—through partnerships with other state public health groups—can help officials identify the resources, needs, and gaps to improve overall emergency preparedness planning and response for vulnerable populations.Angell told CIDRAP that the special needs toolkit is based on materials developed by Connecticut officials, but is broader and focused more on an all-hazards approach. “My goal was that I wanted something easy to use and adaptable,” she said. The documents in the toolkit are available in Microsoft Word format so that other groups can customize them to meet their own needs. “The tool isn’t finished yet. It’s a work in progress,” she said.Some local public health departments in Kansas are small and don’t have the resources to develop their own assessment tools, Angell said. “There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel.”Tools raise challenges, new issuesDefining the vulnerable populations was one of the first challenges in designing the toolkit, Angell said. “The definition of special needs varies from place to place in emergency response. And sometimes people will become special needs after a disaster,” she said.Snethen said that Kansas has become more diverse in the last 10 or 15 years, but that one vulnerable group is at the forefront: the “very old” population, defined as those older than age 85. Of 80 counties in the United States with the greatest population of “very old” people, 23 (29%) are in Kansas, she said. “We are chronologically gifted,” she quipped.A concern that Angell, Snethen, and public health officials in Kansas have about the vulnerable population needs assessment is that it might raise people’s expectations about what responders can realistically do in the event of an emergency such as an influenza pandemic.Recognizing the impact such a pandemic would have on resources, planners are emphasizing the importance of individual preparedness. Angell said the toolkit instructions address how important it is to teach vulnerable populations about what they can do to individually prepare. “This will help them have realistic expectations about what the community can and can’t do,” she said.Angell said it’s too early to tell what impact the tools are having on preparedness for vulnerable populations.  “But we have had good response from public health workers,” she said.See also:View tools and reviewers’ comments from the “Kansas Vulnerable Populations Outreach” practicelast_img read more