The Fake News Law in Singapore – Understand the Punishment of Spreading These Falsehoods
Singapore’s Government ministers will have the authority to put an immediate halt to the dissemination of fake news online and met out punishment to those guilty of spreading these falsehoods. Two years of study was spent into understanding the threat of fake news reports, and thus, which has now led to the fake news law in Singapore being enforced. The new law will fall under the new Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill which was tabled in Parliament on 1 April. This action follows the set-up of a parliamentary committee to study the issues posed by deliberate reporting of online falsehoods. Recommendations were made by the committee on what can be done to curb this problem.
The fake news law in Singapore will see fines as high as S$1 million being meted out to those found guilty of using fake news to undermine society, including repercussions which follow the spreading of fake WhatsApp messages.
The Right of Government Ministers
Government ministers will be given the right under the new Singapore fake news law to issue several orders, including directing online news sites to publish corrections following false news reports. In extreme instances, Government ministers can order the publisher to remove the article from their site and instruct Internet service providers to cut off the user’s access to these errant websites.
Anyone who refuses to comply with the orders given by Government ministers regarding fake news in Singapore will also be subjected to punishment, including companies. Singapore’s fake news law will be applicable to entities and individuals based overseas or locally. If they are spreading fake news in Singapore, even from overseas, they will be subjected to the new law.
If found guilty, those accused of spreading fake news in Singapore will be given the right to appeal to the High Court. It will be their responsibility to prove that the statements which were made online do not bear any falsehoods. The appeal may only take place after the individual or company has approached the minister with a request to cancel their order, but the request was not approved. Criminal sanctions will only be imposed once the statement has been identified as a falsehood.
The Government ministers will be responsible for determining if the falsehood claims made by the fake news is acting against the public’s interest. If the fake news is prejudicial to any part of the country or its security, prejudicial to public safety, public health, finances and tranquillity, or even prejudicial to Singapore’s friendly relations with other nations, it is deemed to be a falsehood.
The Effect of Fake News
Fake news in Singapore is also deemed as falsehood when it is aimed at influencing the presidential election outcome, by-election or general election, and aims to incite feelings of hatred, enmity and ill-will. If the news aims to diminish public’s confidence in the performance of duties, function or excise of power by the Government, statutory board, or Organ of State, it is considered as going against the interest of the public.
For more information about Singapore’s fake news law, visit the Singapore Government’s website here.