A headline like “Singapore bans website” wouldn’t raise eyebrows one bit, as we know that the Media Development Authority (MDA) monitors the web and occasionally restricts access to websites based on their content â€” the most recent being a gay-related website which the MDA did not name. When a website is banned by the MDA, you can’t access it from your browser if you’re in Singapore.
Even if you wanted to find out, the MDA won’t reveal its name or URL, according to the news report.
So, as you can imagine, if a website is blocked or banned, it effectively disappears from the local bit of cyberspace. But what happens when a website bans Singapore?
Read more at TODAYonline
Direct your browser to www.putfile.com â€” the website of a company that provides free online file storage and sharing services â€” and if you’re surfing from Singapore, you’ll be transferred to a page with a message titled: “Putfile says goodbye to Singapore”.
As far as I know, this is the first time a website has banned access to its services from a particular geographical location. You’ll have to ask your technologically-savvy friends how this is done, because I don’t know how to explain it.
Voicing its opposition to the method of capital punishment used in Singapore, Putfile’s message reads: “While Putfile is not a human rights campaigning organisation, we believe that if a country must have the death penalty, there is no need for it be barbaric.”
And Putfile assured users from Singapore that they would “be happy to restore service following any positive move from the Government of Singapore towards abolition of hanging as an execution method.”
Putfile’s decision last week to terminate services to Singapore residents sparked a heated debate on the company’s own forums as well as on several others, though the company has since removed the thread.
Some commentators were scathing of the company’s decision, labelling it a publicity stunt, and an unintelligent one to boot.
One website dedicated to news about peer-to-peer file sharing, p2pnet.net, ran the story about the furore, which garnered comments such as: “Stupid, you think Singapore will care? There are plenty of business/services in line to serve the Singaporean. Your stupidity is your biggest lost (sic).”
“Maybe Putfile will start banning other countries that have the death penalty by hanging,” said another commenter, echoing the sentiment of several others in suggesting that Putfile was taken in by the media circus surrounding the hanging of convicted drug trafficker Nguyen Van Tuong.
Blogger poil11 (poil11.wordpress.com) asked: “Why should the innocent Internet users who were not involved at all have to suffer?”
As for the impact of Putfile.com’s actions, most bloggers and commentators were of the opinion that it would have no impact on the current law.
“Although I would hate to be blocked from their service just for living in Singapore, I respect them for standing up to their beliefs on such a touchy subject. I really don’t think it will make a difference or change a country’s laws,” said a commenter on a post submitted to blog aggregator Digg.com.
“God I love Singapore. If only everyone’s laws were like theirs. The world would be such a nicer place … *packs bags to move to Singapore but then remembers there is no Putfile anymore so decides to stay in crime ridden US of A*,” said another.
However, the response from Singaporean forum-dwellers and bloggers was muted, and people I spoke to on the matter said they only heard of Putfile after they decided to ban Singapore.
(Either that, or they didn’t want to reveal what types of files they “shared” on Putfile’s service.)
Blogger Zhiyang (mrlim.isthebest.net) typified the sentiment: “You won’t be missed, Putfile. Blocking the entire population because of the state’s decision? You guys are geniuses.”
Mr Miyagi aka Benjamin Lee has been entertaining readers at miyagi.sg for over a year, and bans only his mother from reading his website.