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Analysis, Politics

Asia takes steps to combat fake news

Malaysia’s new fake news bill is not the first attempt by Asian countries to tackle the fake news problem.


Written by

Updated: March 28, 2018

Malaysia tabled a new Bill in Parliament on Monday (March 28) to tackle fake news.

Under the new bill, those who knowingly publish or spread fake news could face a fine of up to RM500,000, 10 years imprisonment or both.

Malaysia is not the only country taking action against this growing online problem. Here is what other Asian countries are doing to stop the spread of fake news.

Singapore

Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam said last June that Singapore is expected to introduce new laws to tackle fake news next year.

Acknowledging that misinformation is nothing new, Shanmugam noted that the problem is now more serious than before and said that the government has started thinking about legislation, which will be informed by consultations with stake holders.

The Select Committee on deliberate online falsehoods began holding a series of full-day public hearings earlier on March 14 to discuss ways that the city state can combat fake news, The Straits Times reported.

Written submissions from various stakeholders including media organisations, representatives of technology companies and members of the public, had been collected and studied prior to the hearings, and some stakeholders were invited to speak at the hearings.

A recent survey by government feedback unit Reach found that 80 per cent of respondents supported stronger laws to combat fake news.

Philippines

In June last year, Senator Joel Villanueva formally filed Senate Bill No. 1492, a law targeting those who create or distribute false news.

Under the Bill, false news or information are those which either intend to cause panic, division, chaos, violence, and hate, or those which exhibit a propaganda to blacken or discredit one’s reputation, according to the press release.

Those found guilty may be fined P100,000 to P5,000,000 and imprisoned from one to five years.

Public officials found guilty will pay twice the fine and face twice the number of years in prison. In addition, they will be disqualified from holding public office.

Those who assist in, or encourage the production or distribution of fake news and media outlets or social media platforms who fail to remove fake content may also face charges.

In August, President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law amendments in the Revised Penal Code, which includes imposing stiffer penalties on publishing false news, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.

In February, Senator Grace Poe filed Senate Bill No. 1680, which seeks to prevent government employees from spreading fake news.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque has opposed the bill, vowing to resign if the bill is passed, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.

  Indonesia

Indonesia rolled out a brand new cyber agency, the National Cyber and Encryption Agency (BSSM), in January as part of its battle to fight a whole host of online ills, from cyber crime and online radicalism to fake news South China Morning Post reported.

According to the South China Morning Post, lawmakers are considering revising laws to better cover fake news. However, critics have raised concerns that the new law is too broad and could compromise freedom.

Indonesia’s political sphere has been rocked in recent years by online falsehoods. President Joko Widodo has himself fallen victim to fake news during his election campaign in 2014 when rumours circulated that he was Chinese-Christian.

Malaysia tabled a new Bill in Parliament on Monday (March 28) to tackle fake news.

Under the new bill, those who knowingly publish or spread fake news could face a fine of up to RM500,000, 10 years imprisonment or both.

Malaysia is not the only country taking action against this growing online problem. Here is what other Asian countries are doing to stop the spread of fake news.

Singapore

Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam said last June that Singapore is expected to introduce new laws to tackle fake news next year.

Acknowledging that misinformation is nothing new, Shanmugam noted that the problem is now more serious than before and said that the government has started thinking about legislation, which will be informed by consultations with stake holders.

The Select Committee on deliberate online falsehoods began holding a series of full-day public hearings earlier on March 14 to discuss ways that the city state can combat fake news, The Straits Times reported.

Written submissions from various stakeholders including media organisations, representatives of technology companies and members of the public, had been collected and studied prior to the hearings, and some stakeholders were invited to speak at the hearings.

A recent survey by government feedback unit Reach found that 80 per cent of respondents supported stronger laws to combat fake news.

Philippines

In June last year, Senator Joel Villanueva formally filed Senate Bill No. 1492, a law targeting those who create or distribute false news.

Under the Bill, false news or information are those which either intend to cause panic, division, chaos, violence, and hate, or those which exhibit a propaganda to blacken or discredit one’s reputation, according to the press release.

Those found guilty may be fined P100,000 to P5,000,000 and imprisoned from one to five years.

Public officials found guilty will pay twice the fine and face twice the number of years in prison. In addition, they will be disqualified from holding public office.

Those who assist in, or encourage the production or distribution of fake news and media outlets or social media platforms who fail to remove fake content may also face charges.

In August, President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law amendments in the Revised Penal Code, which includes imposing stiffer penalties on publishing false news, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.

In February, Senator Grace Poe filed Senate Bill No. 1680, which seeks to prevent government employees from spreading fake news.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque has opposed the bill, vowing to resign if the bill is passed, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.

  Indonesia

Indonesia rolled out a brand new cyber agency, the National Cyber and Encryption Agency (BSSM), in January as part of its battle to fight a whole host of online ills, from cyber crime and online radicalism to fake news South China Morning Post reported.

According to the South China Morning Post, lawmakers are considering revising laws to better cover fake news. However, critics have raised concerns that the new law is too broad and could compromise freedom.

Indonesia’s political sphere has been rocked in recent years by online falsehoods. President Joko Widodo has himself fallen victim to fake news during his election campaign in 2014 when rumours circulated that he was Chinese-Christian.



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Nadia Chevroulet
About the Author: Nadia is an Associate Editor at Asia News Network.

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