At the New Media @ Arts House forum today, Charles Lim of the Law Reform and Revision Division, Attorney General's Chambers, shared certain guiding principles that he believes to be important in internet regulation.
1. The practicability/workability of laws. However, even if it is not practicable to enforce a law, it may have symbolic value to signal society's disapproval, or what the Europeans call "signposting".
2. Regulation should not stifle innovation. Hence, Singapore's "light touch" approach.
3. Protection of intermediaries. If content merely passes through them, they need not be considered content providers, and they can therefore be insulated from certain legal risks like being sued for defamation.
4. Risk-based and principle-based approaches. Instead of heavy handed prohibitions, attention can focus on sites that are the pose the greatest risk to society. A principle-based approach would set out certain broad-brush principles (such as honesty); the regulator would need to cite these principles to justify its interventions transparently (presumably allowing them to challenged in court).