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Singapore’s new fake news law takes effect today (October 2), under legislation of the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma).

Its rules and regulations kicked in on Monday, paving the way for the law to be implemented. They were announced in notices in the Government Gazette on Tuesday (October 1).

Under the new law, Singapore’s ministers decide whether to act against a piece of falsehood on the Internet, and can order that it be taken down or ask for corrections to be put up alongside it.

Should anyone wish to challenge this decision, it could cost as little as $200 and take as fast as nine days.

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Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam assured Singaporeans that the appeal process would be relatively fast and inexpensive for individuals.

Under the rules and regulations, court fees for the first three days of the appeal hearing will be waived.

The full appeal process includes the two working days during which a minister has to decide whether to allow an appeal, and the six working days the court has to fix a hearing date, after someone disagreeing with the Minister’s decision files an appeal in court and appears before the duty registrar to ask for an urgent hearing, a Straits Times article reported.

Mr Shanmugam also added that a minister will have to explain why a piece of content is false if he is ordering for it to be taken down or for a correction to be put up.

He elaborated that the reason for the law was to give the Government the tools to deal with falsehoods on the Internet that can go viral in a matter of minutes and cause damage to society.

Companies on the internet putting out content would also be required to ascertain the identity of those who want to put up any paid political content in Singapore.

Pofma was passed in May this year, after more than a year of discussions and feedback given from the public, stakeholders and those in related industries, including a Select Committee hearing.

The law provides for criminal sanctions, with fines of up to S$1 million for technology companies, and fines of up to S$100,000, or jail terms of up to 10 years, or both, for individuals. /TISG

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