SINGAPORE: New laws to regulate Singapore’s online space and tackle the spread of fake news are expected to be introduced next year, said Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam on Monday (Jun 19).
Speaking at the start of a two-day forum on news credibility organised by the Straits Times and the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), Mr Shanmugam said consultations with stakeholders such as media professionals on the legal framework will be held in the second half of this year.
"In some way, (the legislation has) got to achieve working with technological platforms to de-legitimise fake news, to help people identify what is fake news. And then where it is done with malice or for-profit, or deliberately spreading fake news, we have to find ways in which it is dealt with and the people who spread such fake news are also dealt with," said Mr Shanmugam.
The Government will also study the experiences of other countries in forming legislation on fake news, he added. One example he cited was the UK, where a parliamentary committee is looking into laws such as whether social networks should be held responsible for inappropriate content including fake news.
The minister shared the results of a government poll in May which showed that more than 90 per cent of Singaporeans supported stronger laws to remove or correct fake news.
In that same survey, it was found that three-quarters of respondents came across fake news at least occasionally, mostly on Facebook and WhatsApp. One-quarter of respondents had shared information they later discovered to be false, while only around half believed they could recognise fake news.
About 1,600 Singapore residents aged 15 and above were selected randomly for the poll, according to the Ministry of Law.
The results from the poll indicated that apart from legislation, the Government would also have to find ways to increase media literacy and teach critical thinking, Mr Shanmugam said.