Singapore has passed the 'Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill', a law aimed at criminalising the publication of fake news and allowing the government to block and order the removal of such content.
The law bans falsehoods that are prejudicial to Singapore or likely to influence elections and requires service providers to remove such content or allows the government to block it. Offenders could face jail terms up to ten years and fines up to US$735 000.
The Human Rights Watch criticised the law calling it a ‘disaster for online expression by ordinary Singaporeans’ and a ‘hammer blow’ against the independence of online news portals.
Singapore already ranks 151st out of 180 countries – below Russia and Myanmar – in the World Press Freedom Index of Reporters Without Borders.
Law Minister K Shanmugam told a local newspaper that the legislation should not be feared and it is mostly directed at technology companies.