Legal challenge to Singapore misinformation law rejected

The Singaporean government insists the misinformation law is necessary to stop falsehoods from circulating online that could sow divisions in the multi-ethnic, multi-faith country. (AFP)
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Updated 05 February 2020

Legal challenge to Singapore misinformation law rejected

  • Law slammed by rights groups and tech giants, including Facebook, who claim it curbs free speech
  • Government insists the misinformation law is necessary to stop falsehoods from circulating online

SINGAPORE: The first legal challenge to Singapore’s law against online misinformation was rejected Wednesday, a blow to opponents who say it is being used to stifle dissent before elections.
The controversial legislation gives authorities the power to order corrections be placed next to posts they deem false.
It has been slammed by rights groups and tech giants, including Facebook, who claim it curbs free speech.
Since the law came into force in October, several opposition figures and activists have been ordered to place a banner next to online posts stating they contain inaccurate information.
The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), one of a handful of small opposition groups in the country, mounted the challenge after a government minister told it to correct three online posts about employment.
The posts, on Facebook and the party’s website, said many Singaporeans had been displaced from white-collar jobs by foreigners — claims the government said were “false and misleading.”
Immigration is a hot-button issue in the city-state, where the government is regularly criticized for the large presence of foreign workers.
But the High Court dismissed the challenge, with Justice Ang Cheng Hock ruling that the SDP’s statements were “false in the face of the statistical evidence against them.”
“The appellant has not challenged the accuracy of the statistical evidence, and has instead sought to critique it on other grounds,” he added.
The government insists the misinformation law is necessary to stop falsehoods from circulating online that could sow divisions in the multi-ethnic, multi-faith country.
But political activists and opposition parties such as the SDP say it is being used to suppress criticism ahead of elections, expected to be called within months.
While it is praised for its economic management, affluent Singapore’s government is also regularly criticized for curbing civil liberties.
The People’s Action Party has ruled Singapore for decades and looks set to comfortably win the next polls, with a fragmented opposition seen as little threat.


Global Amazon marketing agency Podean launches in Middle East

Updated 29 September 2020

Global Amazon marketing agency Podean launches in Middle East

  • Business aims to provide brands with the tools to boost revenues from online sales to 230 million people in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Turkey

DUBAI: Global Amazon agency and marketplace consultancy Podean has officially launched in the Middle East, with its regional headquarters in Dubai.

The agency said it is the first independent global Amazon services provider to offer end-to-end marketplace marketing solutions to international and local brands in the region. As e-commerce grows rapidly in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, Amazon is the leading player and presents a formidable sales channel for brands that establish themselves early, it added.

Research conducted by Podean this month found that 45 percent of adults in the UAE regularly shop on Amazon. The most popular category is food and groceries, which 26 percent of respondents said they had shopped for in the past month, followed closely by electronics and home appliances, which 25 percent had purchased.

The research also found that the benefits consumers value most are best prices, speed of delivery and range of products — all of which are factors that play to Amazon’s strengths.

Podean said its arrival in the region will provide brands with the tools they need to drive incremental revenues among a combined population of 230 million people in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Turkey.

In the UAE alone, e-commerce is expected to grow by 30 percent from 2020 to 2021, and consumer confidence in Saudi Arabia ranks as the second-highest in the world.

Podean boasts that it can offer brands strategic consulting and holistic Amazon retail and advertising solutions, supported by its global network of experts. Internationally, the agency said it counts more than 80 leading brands among its clients, who can leverage the company’s experience across all categories and facets of marketplace marketing, including retail, analytics, logistics/supply chain, creative, content, voice and media management.

The agency said it can also provide non-endemic brands — which don’t sell physical products in the marketplace — with the ability to drive optimal marketing results by leveraging display and video advertising through Amazon’s demand-side platform.

“We are excited to be launching in the Middle East, a sophisticated consumer market experiencing strong e-commerce growth,” said Podean founder Mark Power. “While the world continues to face uncertainty due to COVID-19, we know that Amazon’s model will meet these changing consumer needs.

“Our company is uniquely positioned to help brands grow their revenues in the Middle East, and to support their global ambitions. The addition of this office further reinforces Podean’s reputation as the leading global Amazon agency network.”

Paul Hart, described by Podean as an experienced business leader who has been building partnerships with brands in the region for 13 years, is the managing director of the business’s new MENA operation.

“I am delighted to be joining a dynamic company (that is) shaking things up in the Amazon services space and running at the speed of Amazon,” he said. “Through Podean’s global network we are able to provide the experience, expertise, specialist resources, tools and technologies to our MENA clients that no other agency in the region has access to. I cannot wait to drive incremental sales for the many great brands in the Middle East.”

Podean said it will also be launching in the region a number of proprietary tools, including JourneyTM, which it says is the first Amazon media-mix-modelling and channel-planning tool that optimizes investment across all Amazon advertising products.

It will also launch ProphetTM, which it describes as an analysis framework that optimizes brands’ Amazon business beyond just return on ad spend/advertising cost of sale, and addresses all critical elements to drive success, from strategy to supply chain to content and media.

Podean said that the combination of both platforms has helped clients increase revenues by upwards of 40 percent and profits by 60 percent.

Podean’s global headquarters is in New York City and, in addition to Dubai, it has offices in Los Angeles, Sydney, London and Singapore.