Singapore Parliament passes legislation to combat scams, cybercrime and online sexual offences

The Online Criminal Harms Bill will tackle many online offences in a recent push by Singapore to regulate illegal activity on the internet, foreign interference and online falsehoods.

 City, Architecture, Building, Cityscape, Urban, Metropolis, Water, Waterfront, Nature, Outdoors, Scenery, Tower, Amusement Park, Ferris Wheel, Fun, machine, Wheel, Night

On Wednesday, 5 July, new legislation was passed by the Singaporean Parliament to address online content that aids scams and harmful cyber activities.

After initially being introduced to Parliament at the beginning of May, the Online Criminal Harms Bill (or Online Criminal Harms Act, dubbed ‘the Bill’) covers a wide range of criminal acts, although the threshold for action on fraud, scams, and cybercrime charges will be lower than for other offences.

The Bill encompasses a range of criminal offences, addressing various areas of concern. These include acts related to terrorism and internal security, incitement to violence, violations of the Official Secrets Act, drug-related offences, gambling, moneylending, scams and malicious cyber activities, and sexual offences like child abuse and the dissemination of voyeuristic material.

If websites, applications, and online accounts are suspected of being involved in these criminal activities, the Bill will give the government the right to request the removal of the dangerous content with strong enforcement measures.

The Act aims to fill the gaps left by the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (full document here), which went into effect in 2019, and the Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Act (full text here), which was passed in Parliament in 2021.