Authorities in Singapore are reviewing VPN technology, to determine its legality within the country. The review comes as part of Singapore’s proposed changes to their Copyright Act, which has not been updated since 2004. The current law does not include any mention of VPN technology.
The review is examining how VPN use may violate IP (intellectual property) and copyright if users use VPNs to access geo-restricted content: “As part of the consultation, the authorities are seeking a review of current exceptions that allow for circumventions of “technological protection measures”, which act like digital locks to restrict the access or use of copyrighted works. Existing exceptions include educational uses of audio-visual works and assistive technologies in e-books.”
The issue has been described as “complicated” by many, due to the concerns over copyright infringement associated with VPN use and their conflict with Singapore’s existing policies. Singapore is a supporter of “parallel import,” which is similar to what a VPN does in the digital realm, so banning VPNs would be contradictory to this existing policy. It’s important to note that many of those calling to outlaw VPN technology still support VPN use for licit, legal purposes.
A 2-month public consultation period for people to weigh in on the issue, which began August 23, is now in place. This consultation period is being held by the Ministry of Law and the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore, and the decision could have far-reaching effects for not only VPN use, but also for business and innovation.
A similar situation is also occurring in Australia, where lawmakers have evaluated whether or not to block VPNs as part of their recently implemented (2015) copyright laws.