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Singapore’s fake news law passes; correction and content removal orders will be directed at tech companies, says law minister; Lowdown of the Fake News Act

After an intense two-day debate, Singapore's parliament yesterday passed the anti-fake news bill despite concerns surrounding free speech and abuse of power, reports The Straits Times. The Protection of Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill gives Singapore's government powers, without any approval from the judiciary, to demand companies like Facebook and Twitter to put fake news warnings next to posts or to take them down completely. The bill passed with 72 MPs voting yes, 9 Workers' Party MPs voting no, and 3 nominated MPs abstaining. Workers' Party had objected to the bill and wanted the courts – instead of ministers – to be the arbiters to falsehoods. It accused the government of creating a self-serving law that can be abused to silence its critics. (See a copy of the new law appended at the bottom). Singapore's law minister K. Shanmugam said the law is not a political tool for the ruling party to wield power, but about "shaping the kind of society that Singapore should be". He said the law is designed to deal with online falsehoods, which go viral within minutes, and that there was no way to guarantee that courts could have dealt with every such falsehoods within hours. According to him, the bill narrows the government's powers, instead of expanding it. Orders to put up corrections or remove content would mostly be directed at technology companies, Shanmugam stressed. Addressing academics' concerns that the law will be used to stifle political discourse "because not all researchers are just researchers,…

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