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IMDA is canceling The Online Citizen, Singapore News & Top Stories class license


SINGAPORE – The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has canceled The Online Citizen’s class license after the socio-political website repeatedly refused to comply with its legal obligation to disclose all sources of funding.

In a statement on Friday (October 15), IMDA said registered Internet content providers (ICPs) such as TOC who engage in online advertising or discussing policy issues related to Singapore must be transparent about their funding sources.

“This is to prevent such ICPs from being controlled by foreign actors or coming under the influence of foreign institutions or funds, and to ensure that there is no foreign influence on domestic politics,” the IMDA said.

The agency said TOC had not issued an annual statement of its funding sources for 2020 despite multiple reminders and extensions from IMDA.

TOC’s class license to operate its website and social media channels was suspended on September 14th, and a final deadline for submitting required information was set on September 28th.

On September 16, TOC editor-in-chief Terry Xu took the website and its social media channels offline, but said he would file a judicial review of IMDA’s order that TOC suspend its social media platforms.

He later also made public statements stating that he did not intend to provide IMDA with the information it needed.

“TOC’s clear and persistent refusal to be transparent and provide the information necessary to achieve full compliance with the Broadcasting Act and Broadcasting Notice (Class License) is forcing IMDA to terminate TOC’s class license with immediate effect,” said IMDA on Friday.

“It is a criminal offense for TOC to operate licensable broadcast services, including new licensable broadcast services, without a license.”


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