You Asked for It
On Saturday, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg penned an op-ed in The Washington Post asking governments to create new rules and regulations for the internet.
Two days later, Singapore submitted legislation in parliament designed to govern how sites such as Zuckerberg’s handle “fake news” on their platforms.
If it passes, the bill would require sites to place warnings or “corrections” alongside any posts containing false statements, and force them to remove comments that any of the nation’s ministers believe are “against the public interest.”
Failure to comply with the fake news bill could result in fines or prison time — a startling escalation, albeit by a small country, of public concerns about online misinformation.
Singapore’s Law Minister K. Shanmugam claims any assertions that the fake news bill would hinder free speech are misguided.
“This legislation deals with false statements of facts,” he told reporters on Monday, according to Reuters. “It doesn’t deal with opinions, it doesn’t deal with viewpoints.”
Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asian division, disagrees with that assessment.
“This draft law will be a disaster for human rights, particularly freedom of expression and media freedom,” Robertson told Reuters. “The definitions in the law are broad and poorly defined, leaving maximum regulatory discretion to the government officers skewed to view as ‘misleading’ or ‘false’ the sorts of news that challenge Singapore’s preferred political narratives.”