Minister clears misconceptions of fake news Bill

Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said ministers are tasked to act because online falsehoods must be dealt with swiftly to limit their impact.
Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said ministers are tasked to act because online falsehoods must be dealt with swiftly to limit their impact. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Though the draft law on combating online falsehoods gives the Government the power to act against such misinformation, it is the courts that will be the final arbiter of what is true and what is false, Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said yesterday.

He said ministers are tasked to act, as set out in the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill, because online falsehoods must be dealt with swiftly to limit their impact. Ministers can order that a correction run alongside an online falsehood or ask for it to be taken down.

He also sought to allay fears that the Bill will curb free speech, saying that falsehoods are defined as statements of facts that are false.

This means opinions, criticism, satire and parody are not covered by the Bill, and people will not fall foul of the proposed law if they criticise the Government or air their views about politics and current affairs.

SEE TOP OF THE NEWS: Courts will be final arbiters of truth, says Shanmugam

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 03, 2019, with the headline 'Minister clears misconceptions of fake news Bill'. Print Edition | Subscribe