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TOC to disable its website and social media channels by 3pm on Thursday

One of Singapore’s oldest surviving sociopolitical website, The Online Citizen (TOC) has been ordered by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) to disable its website and  social media channels by 3pm on Thursday (16th Sept).

In a statement released on Tuesday (14th Sept), the IMDA said that despite numerous reminders, TOC had “repeatedly failed” to declare all its sources of funding in its 2020 yearly declaration and as such, the agency has decided to suspend the class licence of TOC.

Should TOC fail to comply with the suspension, IMDA may take steps to restrict access to TOC and may hold its officers liable for criminal offences under the Broadcasting Act.

In the meantime, TOC has until 28th Sept to provide the disclosures so that it may be compliant with the law, or face possible cancellation of its class license, IMDA said.

The sociopolitical website had told IMDA on Monday (13th Sept) that it would only provide its 2020 yearly declaration on the condition that the agency stop seeking clarifications about its subscription framework and funding sources, but that suggestion was rejected by IMDA.

The requirement for TOC to provide information concerning the provision of its broadcasting service to IMDA is a requirement by law to ensure full transparency.

It is therefore not a matter for negotiation with IMDA.

There is no reason for TOC not to comply, as other registered internet content providers provide this information in order to be transparent about their sources of funding.

The class licence requires content providers that engage in the online promotion or discussion of Singapore’s politics to be transparent about their sources of funding. This is to prevent them from being controlled by foreign actors or coming under the influence of foreign entities and funding.

Under the current rules, online content providers can accept funding only in Singapore and will have to ensure that these contributions are fully transparent by declaring them. They are, however, allowed to accept foreign funding that has a clear commercial purpose such as subscription revenue and advertising revenue.

TOC had become a registered class licensee in 2018 but, IMDA said that TOC had not fully complied with this obligation since 2019.

Meanwhile, TOC said that it is seeking legal advice and is likely to challenge the decision by the IMDA in a court of law. TOC is represented by Carson Law Chambers.

 

Editor’s note: Coincidentally, 16th Sept is also the birthday of the late Lee Kuan Yew.

 

 

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READER COMMENTS BELOW

23 Responses to “TOC to disable its website and social media channels by 3pm on Thursday”

  • Why Need To Destroy Online ?:

    If PAP have nothing to hide, why do they need to get rid of Online Citizen ? They can always rebut any false allegations or information with their facts etc.

    It looks like a Dictatorial action where the people can only read and follow instruction like zombies. No response or any activity is allowed.

    Time to consider voting out the PAP in 2025. KNNBCCB

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  • xoxo:

    We must allow for lapses?
    Only if lapses come from the PAP?
    INDRANEE,where are you?

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  • Knowing Terry, he would surely take this matter to court and die a martyr than to just let it go. He can of course, chooses to guai guai give IMDA what they want and continue the fight another day.

    However, with a famiLEE member as his “back mountain”, I think this would be settled in court.

    All the best to TOC.

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  • Wasted resources:

    Wasted resources…
    Should settle with minimum cost and move on..
    Better keep it alive as a platform for public discussion and info.

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  • @Wasted resources

    Mind you, unlike TRE which cannot even raise $10k, TOC’s has this “back mountain” who is very super super rich, even if it goes to CA, it’s just petty cash.

    And in the process of the case, it would also bring in some needed income for the lawyers, so why not?

    Should TOC survives IMDA, they might want to consider accepting Bitcoin as a payment method so that they need not be forced to declare what they do not know. (tic)

    That having said, and for the record, I would have preferred that TOC remains operational, for TRE’s sake.

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  • Singaporeans R Free Riders:

    I had said here before that my master will zoom in on all oppie donation and make it difficult for them to raise funds.

    hahaha… I am right … PAP huat ah..

    Tech: Please lar, it has nothing to do with donations. TOC can cancel all its members/patrons and it will still continue sui sui, no sweat. All it takes is one petty cash donation from its ‘back mountain’ and TOC will be able to survive into the next decade. lol

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  • Nathan Chen:

    It’s official. By tomorrow, Thursday Sept 16, TOC must close shop. The business of raising money for Terry Xu continues. Target is $210K.Amount donated is 185K since yesterday. $210k is definitely insufficient. There are outstanding huge Court fees to be borne by Terry the Chief Editor of the long running TOC. What to do? TOC and Terry just have to take one step at a time.

    Tech: I wouldn’t worry too much about TOC’s awarded damages to PM Lee. With or without TOC’s website, the amount sought would be met regardless, even if you add another “0″ to the amount payable. What I would prefer TOC do is to concentrate on getting the website back online soonest possible, for the sake of its readers and maybe even TRE.

    There is a reason why TRE had never wanted to try to ‘overtake’ TOC, preferring to just ‘sit back and relax’, but I’ll leave that for another day and thread.

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  • bullshit:

    You are going in front of kangaroos to fight, kangaroos will surely win.

    How to win?

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  • Temusik Patriot:

    Picking September 16th the bastard’s birthday to shut down TOC…even dead the bastard can CONttol the minds of his CONditioned dogs

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  • opposition dude:

    Maybe TOC could combine with TRE?

    Tech: Hell NO, despite the fact that TOC has strong filthy-rich backers, it is tainted, marked and targetted, a magnet for lawsuits both civil and criminal. TRE would suffer an instant death if it ‘combine’ with TOC, better for TRE just to remain status quo.

    Honestly, I wouldn’t touch TOC with a 10-foot pole, even though they are/were doing a great job. Going to courts and police stations sibei tiring one, especially for someone like me with HBP3 and partial brain-dead.

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  • xoxo:

    NO ALTERNATIVE,WE ARE PAP?
    NO ALTERNATIVE IN PARLIAMENT.

    NO ALTERNATIVE TO FT POLICY.
    NO ALTERNATIVE TO EP
    NO ALTERNATIVE TO GRC.
    AND,NOW,NO ALTERNATIVE TO *ST*(shit times).

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  • Harder Truths:

    More and more the police state. Wait for the digital currency and see how many people dare speak out after that.

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  • PAP mandate strong:

    Well one should also look at the fact that if TOC is in China and into China politics instead of Sg. Mr Xu and his colleagues will sure be jialat jialat. Maybe disappear also.

    Current repercussions are not significant.

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  • Stupid IMDA:

    IMDA thinks that they are very smart and have gotten rid of TOC for good, but little do they know that the gang at TOC actually operates another facebook page that has over 20k likes and members.

    I don’t want to give too much details, but suffice to say the facebook page was actually started by a fan of TRE and he joined the TOC gang later on, bringing the page along with him. He and a few others have been operating it for years mostly reproducing articles from TOC.

    Since IMDA only dealing with TOC, the gang can continue to publish future articles under the former TRE facebook page, its business as usual.

    Ha Ha, snooked.

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  • Dogs, dogs, everywhere:

    Deng XP onced said, “Everywhere I look, I see dogs even though they are not fed puppy food.” That old man agreed. Black or white, cats cannot survive here. Too many dogs.

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  • 陈大婶:

    欲加之罪 ,何患无词

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  • it constitute foreign funding:

    /had “repeatedly failed” to declare all its sources of funding in its 2020 yearly declaration and as such, the agency has decided to suspend the class licence//

    aiyoh. say hor (just say hor), some $10/- (it may well be $100/- or $0.50) each goes out from some foreign individuals in country A, B, C AND D into the coffer of ZOC account in sinkie land, so does it constitute foreign funding ????

    now to make it more fun and interesting hor, what happens if the $100/- is all done on behalf of some daft sinkie agent and no one really knows about it ?? and how about ex-sinkies converted to foreigners contributing to some cause in sinkie land ????

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  • with the online eyeballs:

    //have nothing to hide, why do they need to get rid of Online Citizen ? They can always rebut any false allegations or information with their facts etc.//

    ZOC is a credible “threat” to the white monkey idiots and is getting popular (with the online eyeballs ??) ??? if it continues, it may well be the greatest oppo mouthpiece (perhaps even authoritative ???) to challenge the 158th media environment ?? all possible wayang must be employed to take it down ??

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  • @Stupid IMDA

    Wow, is that a matter of fact? I honestly wasn’t aware of this.

    I don’t do Facebook (banned in China) and therefore do not know any of these supposed “fans”.

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  • Homeless Cat:

    Such are the words and deeds of incompetent cowards.

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  • Blankslate:

    Excellent, the best way to show that you are definitely not a totalitarian regime is to shut down independent news outlets. What’s next another Operation Coldstore or Spectrum? Who are they going to blame it on now? The Taliban?

    The “Infocomm Media Development Authority” should actually be renamed the “Infocomm Censorship Authority” to more accurately reflect its actual purpose.

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  • PAP mandate strong:

    Some word of consolation.

    Something i just learned.

    Litigation is never final.

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  • House Full of Laughing hyenas:

    TOC chief editor Terry can order food from Orange & Teal of Dr Chee.

    Start a few. In case it’s shut down.

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