Growth of Singapore as a smart nation:

Restructuring changes for infocommunications and media regulators in 2016

Publication January 20, 2016

The Singapore Government has announced that the Infocommunications Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) and the Media Development Authority (MDA) will be restructured into two new entities, the Infocommunications Media Development Authority (IMDA) and the Government Technology Organisation (GTO).

Expected dates

The IMDA and GTO are expected to be operational by 1 April 2016 and legislation to give the IMDA and GTO regulatory and other powers is expected to come into force by the second half of 2016.

Duties of the IMDA

The IMDA will be responsible for regulatory oversight of the infocommunications and media industries. This combinines the regulatory functions previously held by the IDA and MDA.  It will also supervise the Personal Data Protection Commission, Singapore’s data protection regulator. The GTO will focus on infrastructure development and act as the gatekeeper for new technologies, with a focus on robotics, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and big data to improve Singapore citizens' user experience, consistent with Singapore’s Smart Nation initiatives. The GTO will also be responsible for ensuring the resiliency and cybersecurity needs of government infrastructure.

Streamlining regulatory powers

The reorganisation of the infocommunications and media regulators is consistent with the Singapore Government’s efforts to align itself with the convergence of the infocommunications and media sector. Consolidating the regulation of these sectors under a single regulator,  the IMDA, will help ensure that oversight, regulatory frameworks and regulatory powers can be exercised in a more responsive, flexible and streamlined manner.

A key focus for this review is to streamline the licensing regime and to ensure that the licensing regime promotes growth in the infocommunications and media sector.

Companies with new initiatives will now be able to approach a single regulator. The Ministry of Communications and Information, the parent ministry of the IDA and MDA, has also stated that the reorganisation of regulatory powers will not affect the rollout of the expected amendments to the Films Act, Broadcasting Act, Telecommunications Act and the expected auction for new spectrum.

What this means for Singapore

The creation of the IMDA and GTO will undoubtedly play an important role in ensuring the growth of Singapore as a smart nation and is in keeping with the regulatory trends in other jurisdictions.  We will keep you updated of the legislative and regulatory changes as they unfold in 2016.

Subsequent to this announcement, the Singapore Government passed a Cyber Security Bill on 21 January 2016, please click here to read our update.


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