Singapore has asked Telegram to ban local users from viewing pornography

Police in Singapore have asked chat app Telegram to block local users from viewing accounts that distribute pornography, but have yet to receive a response. Nevertheless, recent progress has been made in communication between the two sides, and the government will continue to work with online platforms such as Telegram to protect Singaporeans from harmful content.

Telegram social group SG Nasi Lemak, which has more than 40,000 members, was found to be spreading pornography in 2019, and several managers were punished for it, but this seems to be unable to prevent more pornographic groups from appearing on the platform. According to previous reports, this year Telegram appeared claiming to have local women’s indecent photos and videos of the group, and “call” members to share the group content to obtain “full access” to watch more obscene content.

Responding to an oral question from Member of Parliament (MP) Nadia Ang Mo Kio GRC, Minister for Home Affairs and Social and Family Development Sun Xueling said in Parliament on Wednesday (Nov 22) that the police take such offences seriously and have taken legal action against offenders. However, she stressed that for effective law enforcement, the relevant online platforms must also fully cooperate.

Sun Xueling did not provide further details on the communication and cooperation with Telegram.

To curb the spread of harmful content Online, Singapore’s Parliament enacted the Online Criminal Harms Act (OCHA) this year, which will be phased in from the first quarter of 2024. The police can then issue “Disabling Direction” to online platforms such as Telegram to prevent users in Singapore from viewing objectionable content on their platforms.