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Singapore passes 'fake news' law

ANI | Updated: May 08, 2019 23:35 IST

Pulau Ujong [Singapore], May 8 (ANI): Singapore's parliament on Wednesday passed the Protection from Online Falsehood and Manipulation Act (POFMA), a move to tackle the spread of online fake news.
The bill was passed after two days of debate in the parliament. A total of 72 Members of Parliament (MP) voted for the bill, as opposed to all nine Workers' Party MPs against it, with 3 nominated MPs - Anthea Ong, Walter Theseira and Irene Quay - abstaining, reported the Straits Times.
Individuals found guilty under the new law could face jail terms of up to 10 years. According to media reports, the bill includes powers for ministers to order sites like Facebook, Google and Twitter to put warnings next to posts authorities deem false and in extreme cases, to take them down.
Speaking during the debate, Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam said that it was impossible for the courts to decide in "a matter of hours" whether something was a "falsehood". His statement had come in response to the Workers' Party's argument that the courts - and not ministers - should be the decision makers on what falsehood was.
Shanmugam also referred to one of the principles set out by a Parliamentary Select Committee last year, which stated that the measures need to be taken in a matter of hours to achieve the aim of stopping falsehoods going viral.
Responding to a letter received last month from 124 academics, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung assured the House that the government will not apply the laws to academic research. The academics had raised concern that the bill could lead to self-censorship.
More than a year in the making since public consultation started in January last year, the Bill is one of the most scrutinised pieces of legislation in the country in recent years. (ANI).

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