In brief

As predicted in our newsletter published earlier this month (accessible here), the Online Safety (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill (“Bill“) was read a second time in Parliament and was passed into law on 9 November 2022. While the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) has not released the commencement date of the new laws, they, together with the Code of Practice for Online Safety (“Code of Practice“), are likely to kick in as early as 2023.

In more detail

To recap, the Bill will create a new part in the existing Broadcasting Act (“Act“) to regulate “Online Communication Services” (OCS), which are electronic services that enable users to access or communicate content via the Internet.

This new part in the Act will only apply to specified types of OCS, which will be listed in the Fourth Schedule of the Act. At present, only social media services will be regulated as an OCS under the Act as a matter of priority. However, the list of OCS may expand over time as part of the Government’s targeted, accretive approach towards regulating different types of OCS.

Together with the amended Act, the Code of Practice (which will spell out the safeguards needed to prevent users, especially minors, from accessing harmful content) is also expected to be released in 2023, after a final round of consultation with social media firms. You may refer to our June newsletter here for further elaboration on the expected obligations under the Code of Practice.

For reference, a draft Code of Practice has been issued by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) in October 2022 here, although we would expect further revisions in the final version.