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Singapore censors Net posting

Singapore took its first action under its new Internet content law.

The Singapore Broadcasting Authority has taken its first action under a heavily protested new law allowing it to regulate political, religious, and pornographic content posted to the Internet.

The Broadcasting Authority on Thursday yanked an anonymous newsgroup posting that criticized a local law firm because, agency officials charge, its contents defamed several of the firm's lawyers, The Wall Street Journal reported today.

The censorship is the first official action taken since the regulation took effect Monday. The law automatically licensed all Internet service providers, online newspapers, and organizations with sites that provide political and religious information about Singapore. Those organizations must now register with the agency, which can impose fines or revoke the licenses of organizations that refuse.

The censored missive was apparently posted by a disgruntled client of the law firm who claimed that he lost his case even though lawyers there assured him that he could win. The posting is believed to have come from the United States, leaving the Broadcasting Authority with no apparent legal recourse to take against the alleged offender.

Agency guidelines state that certain content "should not be allowed" online, including racial or religious satire, homosexuality, and content that "misleads or alarms" the public or "jeopardizes national defense."

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