Passing on anticipated news regulation for Singapore
The Prime Minister of Singapore a couple of hours ago announced that the government will present the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill on Monday.
According to the news report, the bill “will give the Government the power to compel online news sources and platforms to show corrections or display warnings about online falsehoods, and — in extreme and urgent cases — take down an errant article.”
There was a Select (aka special and public) Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods https://www.parliament.gov.sg/sconlinefalsehoods that had recommended in September 2018 that the Government take action. Although most of the testimonies were public, there were closed door sessions too and reports about these seem to suggest there were disinformation campaigns targeted at Singapore.
Facebook came under withering questioning at the Select Committee hearing. (A two-hour video on Facebook (where else) is at https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=10155207544022115.)
A couple of observations:
- Several of us had pointed out that in Singapore, the group that spreads fake news is the elderly, parents and grandparents. And our kind of fake news is laughable by Russian standards—eg plastic rice is sold in the supermarket. And parents and grandparents pass on the hoax out of concern. The Bill does not capture this group. It is apparently not aimed at private but public communication.
- The power to determine facticity apparently lies with the Government.
- The sanctions come across as pretty mild—corrections or warnings. And taking down only in extreme and urgent cases.
- The Bill will not cover the case of the videos of the NZ shooting where Google staffers were manually blocking and deleting the videoclips as they were being uploaded. They were from the live streaming and so were not false even if they were in poor taste.
Peng Hwa ANG
Peng Hwa (Professor) | Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information | Nanyang Technological University | WKWSCI #02-05, 31 Nanyang Link, Singapore 637718 | Tel: (65) 67906109 GMT+8h | Fax: (65) 6792-7526 | Editor, Asian Journal of Communication | Web: http://research.ntu.edu.sg/expertise/academicprofile/Pages/StaffProfile.aspx?ST_EMAILID=TPHANGPast President ICA | ICA 69th Annual Conference Washington DC, May 2019