Have sunset clause for fake news law

The proposed fake news Bill seems to be a reasonable way forward, in spite of genuine concerns regarding potential impacts on freedom of speech.
The proposed fake news Bill seems to be a reasonable way forward, in spite of genuine concerns regarding potential impacts on freedom of speech. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

Fake news is a regrettable fact of life. It's not new, but modern social media has magnified its significance.

Most people would agree that something should be done to limit it and its malign impact.

The proposed fake news Bill seems to be a reasonable way forward, in spite of genuine concerns regarding potential impacts on freedom of speech.

Ministers will have great powers, albeit subject to review.

One simple suggestion is that Parliament could add a "sunset clause" to the eventual Act, maybe after 10 years.

We cannot tell what the media will look like in 10 years' time, nor the technologies available, and it would seem reasonable to force a review of the Act's operation and successes/failures after that period.

If it turns out to work just fine, the Act could be renewed. If not, it could be modified in the light of experience and developing technologies. Parliament could review the Act at any time, but for an Act with so much potential to impact basic rights, a sunset clause would be appropriate.

Philip A. Roberts

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 04, 2019, with the headline 'Have sunset clause for fake news law'. Print Edition | Subscribe