No easy answers regarding laws on fake news: Former US minister
The Republic is discussing the right issues when it comes to laws against fake news but there are no easy answers, said former US secretary for homeland security Michael Chertoff.
Rather than debate aspects of misinformation that are outright deceptive - such as impersonation and intervention by foreign entities - the harder question to answer is what constitutes fake news, said Mr Chertoff in his keynote speech on the second day of regional security conference Milipol Asia-Pacific 2019.
"What's fake or false? Sometimes it gets into the area of exaggeration or taking things out of context. Who decides what is false? And what is the remedy - do you shut it down completely or give a warning that the info is not true?"
In his address yesterday, Mr Chertoff, 65, also touched on data protection and privacy.
"Fake news isn't new. The reason it became urgent to deal with is because the amplification and virility of fake news is a new phenomenon," he told The Straits Times.
While he refrained from commenting directly on the draft laws Singapore introduced on Monday to combat fake news, he said it was useful to draw a distinction between a "clear falsity" and opinion.
"We're interested in looking at what Singapore and other parts of the world are doing, and I would like to see if Singapore can get involved in the commission," he said, referring to the Transatlantic Commission on Election Integrity, which he co-chairs and is made up of sector leaders from Europe and America.
Another pressing concern is hate speech, which can "inspire" people to commit acts of violence such as the Christchurch shootings last month, he said.
The Australian gunman had reportedly posted a manifesto, where he said he was inspired by a Norwegian right-wing terrorist who was responsible for the deaths of 77 people in 2011.
"This would not have happened 20 years ago. There wouldn't have been a way to link them up. This is similar with the recruitment of terrorism," Mr Chertoff said, noting the spread of ideologies promoting violence could trigger one to act.
"In many cases, the ideology is simply the last step for someone who is already feeling frustrated and angry, and they just want to act out."
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