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Singaporean Groups Protest Against Possible Laws On Fake News

Is There A Need For Legislation?


Various prominent groups and public figures in Singapore have launched a major protest against the potential legislation intended tackle the scourge of fake news proliferating on the Internet. 

In a speech by Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam in June 2017, talking of the plans to implement the laws this year, the new laws to tackle fake news would potentially involve working with online platforms to detect and dispel falsehoods, as well as taking the perpetrators to task. 

This year, the recent news of the launch of a Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods sparked a controversial backlash from numerous community groups and public figures, among which included New York-based group Singapore Unbound, former Straits Times editor and media commentator Cherian George as well as the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE).

In their official response statements, AWARE argued for “upstream education instead of downstream censorship wherever possible” while Cherian George advised that the city-state is “better off strengthening the public’s capacity to deal with disinformation… by making them more savvy about disinformation methods.”

Journalist and activist Kirsten Han, who, writing inThe Washington Post, also said: “Disinformation is an issue worth tackling. But responses need to be carefully balanced against curbs on freedom of expression, and cannot be undertaken with haste. Singaporeans don’t need more laws to tell us what we can or cannot say; what we need are genuine engagement and openness, so we can be better equipped to come to our own conclusions.”

In total, the Select Committee has received a total of 162 written submissions, the chairman of the committee Charles Chong confirmed yesterday.

It seems like however detrimental fake news may be, not everyone thinks the government should take such a hard-line and top-down approach toward eradicating it.