Press Releases

Commencement of the Online Criminal Harms Act (OCHA) on 1 February 2024

Published: 30 January 2024

1. The Online Criminal Harms Act (OCHA) was passed in Parliament on 5 July 2023.

2. OCHA introduces measures to enable the Government to deal more effectively with online activities that are criminal in nature. These measures include:

(a) Directions to online services to restrict the exposure of Singapore users to criminal activities on their platforms;
(b) Orders to limit further exposure to the criminal activities being conducted on the platforms of non-compliant online services; 
(c) Powers to require information to administer the Act and facilitate investigations and criminal proceedings; and
(d) Codes of practice and directives to strengthen partnership with online services to counter scams and malicious cyber activities.

3. The provisions for 2(a) to 2(c) will come into effect on 1 February 2024.  Provisions relating to 2(d) will come into force at a later stage.  


4. Designated Officers can issue directions to any online service provider, entity, or individual, when there is reasonable suspicion that an online activity is in furtherance of the commission of a specified offence.[1]  

5. For scams and malicious cyber activities, the threshold for issuing directions is lower. Directions can be issued when there is suspicion or reason to believe that any online activity is being carried out in preparation for or in furtherance of the commission of a scam or malicious cyber activity offence. This will enable the Government to proactively disrupt scams and malicious cyber activities before the public falls prey.[2] 

6. Depending on the facts of the case, the following directions may be issued:

(a) Stop Communication Direction. This requires the recipient of the direction to stop communicating specified online content (including substantially similar content) to people in Singapore. The recipients of the direction are persons and entities who communicated such online content.

(b) Disabling Direction. This requires online service providers to disable specified content (e.g. a post or page) on their service from the view of people in Singapore, which may include identical copies of the content.

(c) Account Restriction Direction. This requires online service providers to stop an account on their service from communicating in Singapore and/or interacting with people in Singapore.

(d) Access Blocking Direction. This requires internet service providers to block access to an online location such as a web domain from the view of people in Singapore.

(e) App Removal Direction. This requires app stores to remove an app from its Singapore storefront, to stop further downloads of the app by people in Singapore.

7. For a start, directions will be issued against scam websites and egregious online activities. This approach enables the Government to prioritise tackling scams and egregious offences, while developing the necessary systems and processes to scale up the issuance of directions for online activities in furtherance of the commission of other specified offences. Examples of egregious offences include, but are not restricted to, those related to threat of death and serious hurt, and threat to law-and-order.


8. Should an online service not comply with the directions, the Competent Authority may issue an order to restrict access to the service or part of the service, to limit the further exposure of persons in Singapore to the criminal activity. 

9. Orders operate alongside, and do not replace, other measures that the Government can take for the non-compliance of directions, such as prosecution. 

Appeal Framework 

10. Recipients of a direction, the proprietor of the online location and the originator of the material targeted by the direction may apply to a Designated Officer for  reconsideration. For orders, the reconsideration of the Competent Authority may be sought. 

11. Should the application for reconsideration be unsuccessful, the appellant can appeal to a Reviewing Tribunal for the direction or order to be cancelled. The Reviewing Tribunal comprises a District Judge or Magistrate appointed by the President, on the advice of the Cabinet.

12. Details of the appeal procedures can be found on

Powers to Require Information 

13. A Designated Officer, the Competent Authority or an Authorised Officer may require any person to whom a direction or an order is issued to provide any information necessary for the administration of the Act.

14. When there is a reasonable suspicion that a specified offence has been committed, Police officers and enforcement officers can request online service providers or owners of online location(s) to provide relevant information to facilitate investigations and criminal proceedings. 

15. These powers also apply to entities that are based overseas and information which is stored overseas. 


16. OCHA allows the Government, in partnership with the industry, to act more effectively against online criminal harms. For more information on OCHA, please refer to

[1] Specified offences are in Part 1 of the First Schedule of the Act.
[2] Scam and cyber malicious activity offences are in Part 2 of the First Schedule of the Act.


Annex – Information on OCHA 

1. Press Release on the Introduction of the Online Criminal Harms Bill

2. Second Reading of the Online Criminal Harms Bill – Opening Speech by 
Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister for Communications and Information & Second Minister for Home Affairs 

3. Second Reading of the Online Criminal Harms Bill – Wrap-Up Speech by 
Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister for Communications and Information & Second Minister for Home Affairs