Committee to tackle fake news seeks public views

In April 2016, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) warned the public of a fake website that has been phishing for visitors' visa numbers and passport numbers.
In April 2016, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) warned the public of a fake website that has been phishing for visitors' visa numbers and passport numbers.PHOTO: ICA

Public can write in on causes, consequences of online falsehoods and propose solutions

A Select Committee tasked to look into ways Singapore can tackle online fake news is inviting members of the public to submit their views and suggestions on the matter.

These suggestions should be submitted by the end of next month, ahead of public hearings the committee expects to hold in the second half of March, the committee announced yesterday.

The submissions can relate to issues that fall within the committee's mandate, which is to examine and report on causes and consequences of online falsehoods, and to propose countermeasures, including legislation that may be needed.

Deputy Speaker Charles Chong, the chairman of the 10-member committee, said: "The committee's work will be assisted by hearing a wide range of views from the public. I encourage everyone with an interest in this subject to write in with their views and suggestions."

He added that he has asked members of the committee to reach out to individuals and organisations who will add useful perspectives to its work.

The submissions can be made in English, Chinese, Malay or Tamil.

They can be sent via mail to The Clerk of Parliament, Parliament House, 1 Parliament Place, Singapore 178880; or via e-mail to selectcommittee@parl.gov.sg

The Select Committee may publish the submissions it receives.

Apart from Mr Chong, the committee comprises three office-holders, four People's Action Party MPs, one Workers' Party MP and a Nominated MP (NMP).

The Select Committee was formed last week, after Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam, now one of the committee members, tabled a motion in Parliament on the matter. The motion was carried after all 80 MPs present voted to support it, including opposition MPs and NMPs.

In a 21-page Green Paper published ahead of the motion, the Government also set out what it saw as the threat from online falsehoods. It cited examples of coordinated disinformation campaigns by foreign countries to interfere in elections - including last year's German federal election and the 2016 United States presidential election.

The committee will submit its recommendations to Parliament after the public hearings and deliberations.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 17, 2018, with the headline 'Committee to tackle fake news seeks public views'. Print Edition | Subscribe