A law intended to stop “fake news” came into effect in Singapore this month.
The Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act was passed in May. It requires online platforms, including social media, to issue corrections or remove content that the government deems false.
The act states that a person must not do any act in or outside Singapore in order to communicate in Singapore a statement knowing or having reason to believe that it is false and that it is likely to be prejudicial to the security of Singapore, public health, public safety, public tranquility or public finances. It must not be prejudicial to the friendly relations of Singapore to other countries, incite feelings of hatred, influence the outcome of an election or diminish public confidence in the performance of the government.
Facebook, Twitter and Google, which have their Asian headquarters in Singapore, were given temporary exemptions from some provisions in the act to give them time to adapt, reports The Guardian.
Media companies that fail to comply face a fine of up to a S$1 million ($724,000). Individuals, both inside and outside Singapore, face fines of up to S$60,000 ($43,000) and prison for up to 10 years.
Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong defended the bill saying: “I don’t see our legislation as being in any way restrictive of free speech.”
The act is available here.