More protection from online falsehoods
Private individuals and entities to get more protection from fake news and disinformation
The tangled net of the World Wide Web can tell false truths and destroy the reputation of private individuals and entities alike, all in a matter of days. Victims of online falsehoods, whether society as a whole, or private individuals and entities, can expect further protection after new bills were introduced in Parliament yesterday.
Here is what you need to know:
WHAT ARE "FALSEHOODS"?
A falsehood is a false or misleading statement of fact.
It can include any words, numbers, images, sounds, symbols.
Opinions, criticisms, satire and parody will not be considered illegal.
Falsehood (Illegal): "The Government has declared war against our neighbours."
Criticism (Legal): "Recent lapses by the Government show that standards are slipping."
WHAT ARE THE CHANGES?
The new Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill is part of a multi-pronged response to protect society from fake news and disinformation.
The Ministry of Law said the draft law does not target free speech and will not affect most average citizens.
The Government will also strengthen its response in the areas of education and fact-checking.
For private companies and individuals:
There will be additional enhancements to the Protection from Harassment Act (Poha) to ensure private citizens and entities can find recourse from falsehoods spread about them.
WHAT IS THE PROTECTION FROM ONLINE FALSEHOODS AND MANIPULATION BILL?
If the falsehood has been, or is being, communicated in Singapore, the relevant minister can ask a competent authority, to be set up under the Ministry of Communication and Information, to issue directions to correct or take down false information, if it is in the public interest.
Criminal sanctions can also be imposed, if necessary.
Guilty individuals can be jailed for up to 10 years, while social media companies can be fined up to $1 million, and not more than $100,000 for every day or part of a day if the offence continues after conviction.
The Courts will have the final say on what is false and any decision by the Government on what is false can be overridden by the Courts on appeal.
WHAT IF I AM A VICTIM OF ONLINE FALSEHOODS?
If the Bill passes, pre-existing correction and stop publication orders will be spelt out in more detail, and a new General Correction Order will be introduced.
General Correction Orders can be made where the false statement has or is likely to cause serious harm to the applicant's reputation.
A prescribed third party, such as a print or online publication, for example, can be ordered to publish a correction to draw the public's attention.
There will also be the option of an expedited interim order for urgent cases. The Bill also clarifies that entities such as companies can also seek relief against falsehoods under Poha.
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