New laws to tackle spread of fake news to be introduced next year: Shanmugam

In order to to tackle the spread of fake news in Singapore, new laws will be introduced next year, said K Shanmugam, Law and Home Affairs Minister today while speaking at the start of the two-day forum on news credibility.

He added that consultations with the stakeholders such as media professionals, legal professionals and tech companies will be held in the second half of the year.

K Shanmugam, Law and Home Affairs Minister of Singapore.
K Shanmugam, Law and Home Affairs Minister of Singapore. Photo courtesy: gov.sg

The Minister said, “In some way, (the legislation has) got to achieve working with technological platforms to de-legitimise fake news, to help people identify what is fake news. And then where it is done with malice or for-profit, or deliberately spreading fake news, we have to find ways in which it is dealt with and the people who spread such fake news are also dealt with.”

In forming legislation on fake news, the government will also study the experiences of other countries. Citing the example of UK, the Minister said, “A parliamentary committee is looking into laws such as whether social networks should be held responsible for inappropriate content including fake news.”

Shanmugam also gave information regarding a recent government poll in Singapore which showed that more than 90 per cent of Singaporeans supported stronger laws to remove or correct fake news.

The survey revealed that three-quarters of respondents came across fake news at least occasionally, mostly on Facebook and WhatsApp. One-quarter of respondents had shared information they later discovered to be false, while only around half believed they could recognise fake news.

While concluding, Shanmugam said, “This indicates that apart from legislation, the Government would also have to find ways to increase media literacy and teach critical thinking.”

Author
Ashraf Jamal
Ashraf Jamal – Senior Writer

Ashraf Jamal brings a rare depth to writing equipped with a degree in journalism, a postgraduate degree in political science, and a degree in law from the Allahabad University. His experience includes editing and publishing the Northern India Patrika and writing for Times of India for almost a decade covering just about any topic under the sun including NRIs and Indian diaspora.

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