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31 May 2023

New Online Criminal Harms Bill to Fight Online Crime 

Online criminal activities, including malicious cybercrimes and scams perpetrated through online platforms, have been steadily rising over the years. To tackle this growing problem, the Online Criminal Harms Bill was introduced in the Singapore Parliament on 8 May 2023. The objective of the Bill is to empower the authorities to take swift and pro-active action to disrupt the spread and impact of online criminal activities on the Singapore public. 


Key Features of the Bill 


Government Directions


Under the Bill, the following Government Directions may be issued when:


  1. there is reasonable suspicion that an online activity is being carried out to commit specified criminal offences (e.g. offences that affect national security, national harmony and individual safety); or 

  2. there is suspicion or reason to believe that an online activity is being undertaken to commit a scam or malicious cyber activity offence:

For more examples of specified criminal offences, click here (Annex A of the Ministry of Home Affairs’ Press Release dated 8 May 2023). The full list can be found in the First Schedule of the Bill.


Code of Practice & Directives 


The Bill also creates a framework to foster closer collaboration between the authorities and designated online service providers to counter specified criminal offences affecting the Singapore public.  


Codes of Practice, which may be different depending on the nature of the online services, may require designated online services to have in place systems, processes and measures for the purposes of:


  1. enabling partnerships and sensemaking with the Government to proactively deal with scams and malicious cyber activities: 

  2. prevention of scams and malicious cyber activities on the services; and 

  3. supporting the Government’s enforcement actions against such online crimes. 


Where there is persistent risk of scams or malicious cyber activities on the designated online services, the relevant authority may issue a Directive to require the service to implement specific risk reduction measures. 


Appeal Mechanism


Recipients of a Government Direction and originators of the online activity targeted by the Direction may appeal to vary or cancel the Direction. The appeal will be heard by a Reviewing Tribunal, which will comprise a District Judge or Magistrate appointed by the President, on the advice of the Cabinet.


Designated online services can appeal to the Minister for Home Affairs against decisions by the relevant authority relating to Codes of Practice and Directives.


For queries or more information, please contact:


Wilson Wong


(65) 6303 6213


Geraldine Tan


(65) 6303 6231


Anna Toh


(65) 6303 6234

This article is intended to provide general information only and should not be relied upon as an exhaustive or comprehensive statement of law. Should you have any specific questions, please speak with one of our above contacts, or your usual contact at Amica Law LLC. 

© 2023 Amica Law LLC. All rights reserved.

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