Singapore to pass controversial bill tackling misinformation online

The ‘Protection from online Falsehood and Manipulation bill’ has been submitted to the Singapore Parliament for examination on 1 April 2019. The draft is proposing to have government monitors who would order removal or force correction on online information considered inaccurate. Moreover, the bill also engaged online platforms’ responsibilities towards the timely removal of illicit content and towards measures that would limit the visibility of such content. Human Rights Watch has raised concerns over the compatibility of the current text with the existing human rights framework, in particular with the freedom of expression because ‘any minister could order the issuance of a “correction direction” that requires the person or website that posted the material deemed false by the minister to post a “correction” in language specified by the minister or a body appointed by the minister indicating that the statement at issue is “false.” The direction can be ordered regardless of whether the person who posted the material is in Singapore, as long as the material can be accessed in Singapore. Failure to comply with such a direction can be punished with up to 12 months in prison and a S$20,000 (US$14,800) fine’.