Singapore fake news law a ‘disaster’ for freedom of speech, says rights group

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –Singapore’s parliament has passed legislation against “fake news”, a move that has been criticised by rights groups, journalists and tech firms over fears it could be used to clamp down on freedom of speech.

The law, which passed on Wednesday, will require online media platforms to carry corrections or remove content the government considers to be false, with penalties for perpetrators including prison terms of up to 10 years or fines up to S$1m ($735,000).

Technology giants including Google and Facebook have said they see the law giving Singapore’s government too much power in deciding what qualifies as true or false.

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch said the new law was a “disaster for online expression by ordinary Singaporeans, and a hammer blow against the independence of many online news portals”.

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