Singapore’s parliament Wednesday passed laws to combat “fake news” that will allow authorities to order the removal of content despite fierce criticism from tech giants, the media and rights groups. They give government ministers powers to order social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to put warnings next to posts authorities deem to be false and in extreme cases get them taken down. If an action is judged to be malicious and damaging to Singapore’s interests, companies could be hit with fines of up to Sg$1 million ($735,000). Individuals could face jail terms of up to 10 years. Authorities in the tightly-controlled country — long criticised for restricting civil liberties — insist the measures are necessary to stop the circulation of falsehoods which could sow divisions in society and erode trust in institutions. But the laws have sparked outrage from rights groups — who fear they could stifle online discussion — tech companies with major bases in the financial hub and journalists’ organisations. The legislation “gives the Singapore authorities unchecked powers to clamp down on online views of which it disapproves,” said Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s regional director for East and Southeast Asia. “It criminalises free speech and allows the… Read full this story
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