I alluded in my previous post to the fallacy of MDA pretending that The Online Citizen and Temasek Review Emeritus are not affected by the recently announced licensing changes. Today’s “The New Paper” helped MDA to re-iterate the fallacy by running the below headline “The Online Citizen not affected”.
Of course, this claim cannot possibly be true. “Affected” is a word that can cover many states of existence. On Sunday last week an editor may have enjoyed some freedom to operate under the existing “light touch” system of group class licensing. By Tuesday afternoon however – less than 48 hours later – it was clear that many sites had been thrown into a state of legal limbo. As a result of the licensing changes, sites popular enough to meet the 50,000 visitor threshold suddenly have a sword hanging over them. The sword being that a faceless bureaucrat can, at the stroke of a pen, impose onerous financial and administrative restrictions on their publishing. Restrictions so onerous that when the sword falls, it could easily put a site out of business. Clearly, such a sudden transition to such an arbitrary and threatening model is a huge change and sites are most definitely “affected”.
MDA’s position however seems to be that an editor is not affected by a sword hanging over his head as long as it has not yet fallen and crashed through his skull. That MDA has empowered itself to hold the sword is particularly galling. Our supposedly highly educated ministers and civil servants have perhaps forgotten the story of Damocles – that the presence of the sword is more than enough to instill fear. On second thoughts perhaps they have not forgotten the story at all.