SG government to take stronger stance on battling fake news

K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs & Minister for Law said that measures are currently in the pipeline to battle the problem of fake news in the country.

During a “Keep It Real: Truth and Trust in the Media” forum, Shanmugam revealed that in the second half of this year, the ministry will work towards consulting with stakeholders, the media, the legal profession, and the Internet companies to “see what the contours and shape of the legislation ought to be”.

The move also follows the results of a poll commissioned by the government on fake news. When asked on what their views were on legislation to deal with fake news, 91% of Singaporeans surveyed supported stronger laws to ensure the removal or correction of fake news.

“Legislative action therefore seems a no-brainer. We will continue to study what other countries are doing,” Shanmugam said. He added that a team has gone to Germany and the UK to learn from what other countries are doing, and planning to do on the issue of fake news.

Shanmugam said that most misinformation should ideally be dealt with through a resilient society, a responsible and effective media and the voluntary actions of Internet companies. However, the government still has a key role to play.

“It must stand ready to deal with misinformation that impacts society. There are many examples. Such as if someone spreads a rumour that if you go to a certain hospital, you will be infected by a disease. Or a rumour that a bank is in trouble. It could be financial, health or governance-related,” Shanmugam explained.

This was not the first time Shanmugam has pledged to tackle the problem of fake news. Just in April, he raised the red flag on the prevalence and impact of fake news in Singapore.  In his speech, Shanmugam named websites such as All Singapore Stuff and States Times Review as websites which perpetuate fake stories, raised the potential impact fake news has on national security, on top of ill-profiteering.

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