Explained: How Singapore law proposes to crack down on ‘false’ online posts

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News:Singapore has passed the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act,2019.

Facts:

Features of the Act:

  • The act aims to control the spread of falsehood which the government deems to be a threat to national security, public tranquillity and Singapore’s friendly relations with other countries.
  • The act enables the government to order social media websites to take down posts deemed to be false.
  • It gives Singaporean ministers the power to decide whether content on the internet is considered a falsehood.The minister will need to explain why the statement is false.
  • A falsehood is defined as a statement of fact that is false or misleading. However,the act’s definition of a falsehood is limited to a statement of fact and does not cover opinions, criticisms, satire or parody.
  • Further,if a minister identifies a falsehood,the individual is issued a Stop Communication Direction to be complied with within a specified time period.
  • Only when falsehood is spread with malicious intent do criminal sanctions apply.It provides for prosecutions of individuals who can face fines of up to S$50,000 and, or up to five years in prison.
  • The act also provides for a set of binding Codes of Practice for technology companies covering three areas.
  • The three areas are (a)inauthentic online accounts and bots (b)digital advertising transparency and (c)de-prioritising falsehoods will be applied to digital advertising intermediaries or Internet intermediaries.