The Ministry of Law is preparing legislation to better protect against online harassment.
It will be tabled by early next year, Law Minister K. Shanmugam said on Monday.
The ministry had been looking at the issue for about 1½ years, he said at a conference on harassment. It studied legislation in other countries and conducted internal discussions.
Mr Shanmugam cited a recent Reach survey which showed that the public found the law inadequate in dealing with online harassment.
More than 80 per cent of some 1,000 Singaporean residents surveyed felt that online harassment is a serious issue, and a similar number indicated they wanted tougher measures in place to deal with harassment, both online and offline.
He also cited a 2012 Microsoft survey that found that Singapore had the second highest rate of online bullying, just behind China, out of 25 countries surveyed, among those aged eight to 17.
"I am concerned that our children seem to be the victims," The Straits Times quoted Mr Shanmugam as saying. "If so many children are impacted, I think later on it will have a deep impact on society as they become adults. It is for us to... step in and try and help them."
ONLY AS LAST RESORT
He stressed that he preferred to have the law step in only as a last resort, but that it was necessary to deal with the really bad cases, such as when the victim feels threatened or abused.
"Ideally we want to create a situation where selfhelp is possible. If there is stuff said about you and it is untrue and you feel victimised (or) harrassed or it is plain wrong, then maybe... there can be a framework for you to correct or have clarifications," Channel NewsAsia quoted him as saying.
"Then at the second level... the civil law can kick in. And criminal law is the third and final stage. That's the way I see it."
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