08 May 2019
The Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill was introduced in Parliament recently to tackle the spread of online falsehoods.
The new law aims to provide the Government with powers to act against online falsehoods to protect public interest. The Bill lists several definitions of public interest: Singapore’s security; to protect public health, public finances, public safety or public tranquility; Singapore’s friendly relations with other countries; to prevent influence on the outcome of an election or a referendum; to prevent incitement of feelings of enmity, hatred or ill will between different groups of people; or to prevent a diminution of public confidence in public institutions.
For action to be taken, there are two criteria that must be met — there must be a false statement of fact, and it must also be in the public interest for the Government to take action.
Corrections as well as take-down orders may be issued to remove falsehoods online. “Malicious actors”, or those who act deliberately to undermine society using falsehoods, will be subject to criminal action.
The courts will have the final say on what is false. This means that any decision by the Government on what is false can be overridden by the courts on appeal.