SINGAPORE — Parliament on Wednesday (8 May) passed the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill, which will give the government the power to take individuals and online news sources and platforms to task if they disseminate “deliberate online falsehoods”.
Perpetrators face fines of between $30,000 and up to $1 million, and/or up to 10 years’ jail.
Amid criticism from observers on the ministers’ wide-ranging powers under the new fake news law, here’s a look at similar legislation elsewhere:
The previous governing coalition Barisan Nasional introduced an Anti-Fake News Act in April last year. The maximum penalty under the law is up to six years’ jail along with a fine of up to RM500,000 ($164,000).
The ruling Pakatan Harapan government tried to repeal the law just five months later, but the move was blocked by the opposition-led Senate.
The Act to Improve Enforcement of the Law in Social Networks (Net Enforcement Act) was passed by the Bundestag in June 2017, giving the authorities the power to fine social media giants up to €50 million ($76.9 million) if they fail to remove “obviously illegal” content within 24 hours upon receiving a complaint.
For offensive online material that requires further assessment, action to block it must be taken by the companies within seven days, failing which a fine will be imposed.
Two laws were passed in October last year to rein in false information during election campaigns. The laws allow a candidate or political party to seek a court injunction preventing the publication of “false information” during the three months leading up to a national election.
They also give France’s broadcast authority the power to take any network that is “controlled by, or under the influence of a foreign power” off the air if it “deliberately spreads false information that could alter the integrity of the election”.
President Vladimir Putin in March signed into law a set of Bills passed by lawmakers that impose tough new fines for those who spread “fake news” or show “blatant disrespect” for the state online.
Online news outlets and users that spread “fake news” will face fines of up to 1.5 million rubles for repeat offences. Insulting state symbols and the authorities, including Putin, will carry a fine of up to 300,000 rubles ($6,280) and 15 days’ jail for repeat offences. The authorities may also block websites that do not meet requests to remove inaccurate information.
Lawmakers in early April passed new legislation which would fine social media and web hosting companies up to 10 per cent of their annual global turnover and imprison executives for up to three years if “abhorrent violent material” is not removed “expeditiously”.
Parliament rushed the legislation in the wake of the 15 March attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand where an Australian white supremacist shot worshippers in the two mosques while broadcasting the crimes live on Facebook using a helmet-mounted camera.
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