Singapore parliament approves ‘anti-fake news’ law — will this curtail free speech?


Singapore’s parliament approved the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) on May 8, 2019.

Commonly known as the anti-fake news law, POFMA gives broad, unchecked powers to government ministers to determine what online information is “false” and demand that it be censored or corrected.

The Ministry of Law says the legislation will help stop the circulation of “deliberate online falsehoods” which it says are being used “to divide society, spread hate, and weaken democratic institutions.”

But media groups and human rights advocates see the law as another tool to suppress free speech in Singapore. The law will come into force in a national environment where free speech is already under threat, as seen in multiple recent defamation claims against independent media and commentators.

The proposal to make a law aimed at tackling false information was discussed during a parliamentary committee deliberation in 2018. POFMA was introduced in parliament on April 1, 2019. A total of 72 members of parliament voted in favor of the measure while nine opposed it.

read more