Singapore law that bans fake news takes effect today

Singapore’s controversial “fake news” law took effect Wednesday despite critics warning the new rules may serve to suppress free speech by giving the government the power to determine what is false.

The law, which was passed in May, requires news and social media sites to correct content the government deems false or damaging and, in some cases, entirely remove the content.

Media platforms who fail comply can be fined up to $730,600, while individuals could be jailed for up to 10 years, Reuters reported.

The Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act, more commonly referred to as the “fake news” law, has been criticized for giving government ministers too much power to decide what is true or false information.

“It’s such a broad law that it’s hard to predict how it’s going to be applied. What’s of immediate concern is the chilling effect and the further entrenchment of self-censorship,” journalist and activist Kirsten Han told Agence France-Presse.

Tech companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google may also be required to determine the identities of those who post paid political content in Singapore, such as advertisements seeking to influence elections, according to The Strait Times.

Officials have insisted the measures are to prevent falsehoods from going viral, causing divisions in society and hurting the public’s trust in the government, according to the paper.


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