The Hindu Business Line

Singapore plans law to crack down on spread of fake news

Bill tabled in Parliament to impose fines of up to $7,40,000 and 10-year jail term


Singapore plans to introduce tough new laws to hold online outlets accountabl­e for the spread of fake news, joining countries around the world in putting pressure on companies like Facebook to address the issue.

The new measures will require online sites to show correction­s to false or misleading claims and take down falsehoods, according to a Bill tabled in Parliament by the government.

Criminal sanctions

Account-restrictio­n directions can be issued to a platform to disable a fake account or a bot that spreads a falsehood underminin­g the public interest, the government said in Parliament. These directions can be appealed in a court. The Bill also intends to impose criminal sanctions — including fines of up to $7,40,000 and 10 years in prison — against those who spread an online falsehood with intent to prejudice the public interest, and those who make a bot to spread an online falsehood. The sanctions will also apply to anyone providing services for the purpose of spreading falsehoods in return for a reward.

“There are a lot of falsehoods being propagated,” said Singapore Law Minister K Shanmugam. “If they are not dealt with, then free speech itself will be undermined, democracy will be undermined, public institutio­ns will be undermined.”

The government’s move comes just days after Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg called for new global regulation­s for everything from hate speech online to privacy and data protection.

While Facebook asked for regulators around the world to agree on standards for online content, government­s like that of Singapore see the issue as serious enough to take more immediate action.

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