25 September 2018

Singapore acts to tackle fake news regulation

Committee offers 22 recommendations to fight fake news, but says there is no silver bullet to deal with the issues and caution is needed.

A ‘select committee on deliberate online falsehoods’, or fake news, in Singapore has called for new laws that will grant the government powers to move quickly to disrupt the spread of fake news, as part of a broad range of measures to counter the spread of fake news.

No silver bullet

The committee has made a total of 22 recommendations, including enacting legislation, urging technology companies to take proactive steps to tackle fake content on their platforms, creating a national framework to guide public education on falsehoods and the setting up of a fact-checking body. A 176-page report has been submitted to Parliament, following a five months public consultation. The 10-member committee, chaired by Deputy Speaker of Parliament Charles Chong, was appointed in January to examine the phenomenon of fake news and study possible measures Singapore could take to tackle the problem. The committee reports stated, ‘there is no one silver bullet to combat this complex problem, and a multi-pronged approach is necessary.’

Checks and balances

In a range of short and long term measures, the committee addressed five broad areas, involving a range of parties including technology companies, media organisations, community leaders and volunteers, as well as the government. The report states the recommendations are aimed at disrupting online falsehoods, nurturing an informed public, reinforcing social cohesion and trust, dealing with threats to national security and sovereignty, and promoting fact checking. The committee insisted, ‘it is also important that they be accompanied by checks and balances,’ adding that adequate safeguards need to be put in place to ensure due process and the proper exercise of power.