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Bill on fake news, data breaches on agenda in Parliament on Apr 1

Bill on fake news, data breaches on agenda in Parliament on Apr 1

File photo of Parliament House. (Photo: Hani Amin)

SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Law will table a new Bill to fight online falsehoods when Parliament convenes on Monday (Apr 1).

Members of the House will also discuss recent data breaches on public IT systems and if hotspots and chemical waste dumping in Johor has affected Singapore.

Members of Parliament (MPs) asked for updates from the preliminary investigation relating to the leak of blood donors’ personal data, and what steps the Ministry of Health is taking to address the breach.

READ: Govt's data management under review following CHAS error, blood donor data leak

READ: Personal information of more than 800,000 blood donors exposed online by tech vendor: HSA

Earlier this month, it was reported that the personal information of 808,201 blood donors in Singapore was left exposed on the Internet for nine weeks after the data was mishandled by a vendor.

The information, which included names and NRIC numbers, was said to have been placed on an unsecured database by the vendor.

Preliminary investigations revealed that no unauthorised person had accessed the database online, aside from the expert who flagged the vulnerability.

READ: Pasir Gudang chemical poisoning: 2,775 people affected; no state of emergency for now

Also on the agenda are environmental issues relating to neighbouring Johor. MP Lee Bee Wah asked if Singapore has received any updates on the Johor government’s efforts to manage hotspots in the Malaysian state.

Dr Lee also asked how Singapore residents can be safeguarded against long-term exposure to haze pollutants.

Non-constituency MP Daniel Goh asked the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources about the sensors used in Punggol to measure the level of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the air. He also asked if there has been an increase in the measured levels of VOCs since the chemical waste dumping incident in Pasir Gudang.

Thousands had fallen ill after a river in the area was polluted by illegally dumped chemicals.


The Ministry of Law will introduce a new Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill. 

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Friday that the new Bill will give authorities the power to hold online news sources and platforms accountable if they proliferate deliberate online falsehoods.

This comes after the Government accepted the proposals from the Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods, which included legislation to tackle the problem.

READ: Laws to tackle deliberate online falsehoods to be introduced in Parliament: PM Lee

One MP, Mr Seah Kian Peng, has also filed a question on embattled water treatment company Hyflux. Mr Seah asked what impact the challenges facing Hyflux will have on Singapore's water supply.

He also asked if national water agency PUB has the operational capacity to take over Tuaspring  - Hyflux's desalination plant. PUB issued a default notice to Hyflux earlier this month and may take over Tuaspring - Singapore's largest desalination plant - if Hyflux cannot resolve operational issues plaguing the plant.

"What is the extent of private sector involvement in our water provision?" asked Mr Seah, who also questioned whether any review should be done in light of what has happened to Hyflux.

Two MPs have also asked about retrenched PMETs, who made up 75.8 per cent of all retrenchments in 2018.

Mr Ang Wei Nang wanted to know how they can be helped and whether the Ministry of Manpower foresees worsening structural unemployment this year, while NCMP Mr Goh asked if the ministry has investigated the reasons behind the high ratio of PMETs among retrenched workers.

Source: CNA/ga(hm)


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