Singapore looking at removing harmful app-store content, age classification for online games

Singapore looking at removing harmful app-store content, age classification for online games

SINGAPORE — Singapore will adopt a new Code of Practice for app stores to require them to remove harmful content circulating in the marketplace.

This code will be developed with industry engagement over the next 12 to 18 months, said Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo in Parliament on Tuesday (28 February).

Speaking during her ministry’s Committee of Supply debate, Teo said that apps with harmful content, depicting explicit sexual activities or inciting violence, remain a concern, especially for children.

The Code of Practice seeks to strengthen online safety beyond social media to widely-used online communication services. It will complement the Code of Practice for Online Safety, which will require all social media firms with significant reach to put in place systems to limit Singapore users’ exposure to online harms.

Classification scheme for online games?

The Ministry of Communication and Information (MCI) will also seek to protect Singaporeans from exposure to harmful content in online games.

Teo said a possible measure is an age classification scheme for online games, similar to the existing one for video games. The scheme will clarify the age appropriateness of games and help parents exercise better supervision over their children’s online gaming.

“Apps with egregious content may also become unavailable for download. But games may also be accessed through platforms other than apps, and we will study how to deal with this,” she added.

A landscape survey on online gaming has also been started to assess if more can be done to tackle issues such as cyber-addiction. As there is currently no international consensus on the nature of the problem or the effectiveness of measures, the survey will help MCI better understand the concerns of Singaporeans.

The survey will examine exposure of children to unwanted interactions and inappropriate content on gaming platforms. It will also examine the social and psychological impacts of gaming, extending beyond problematic content.

Digital Connectivity Blueprint 

The new Code of Practice forms part of the new “Digital Connectivity Blueprint” that MCI is developing to lay out long-term infrastructural ambitions.

It will outlines plans for 6G mobile and a 10Gbps home broadband network, as well as plans to have more subsea cables in Singapore to boost digital trade and data flow.

The blueprint will also tackle three issues of concern: inclusion of Singaporeans in the path of digital development, keeping digital technologies safe and safeguarding the unity and resilience of Singapore.

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