Singapore’s Parliament on Wednesday passed the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill by a vote of 72-9.
The law bans from Singapore consumption false communications on any online platform made across the world that is within “the public interest.” Public interest purposes are defined as anything related to national security, public health or finances, friendly relations with other countries, the incitement of feelings of enmity, hatred or ill will between groups or persons, among others. It also forbids the creation of online bots that would communicate falsities.
The law states its purpose is to “prevent the electronic communication in Singapore of false statements of fact, to suppress support for and counteract the effects of such communication, to safeguard against the use of online accounts for such communication and for information manipulation to enable measures to be taken to enhance transparency of online political advertisements and for related matters.”
Humans Right Watch and other rights organizations have condemned the Act for restricting freedom of speech and open discussion online, giving ministers within Singapore parliament power to singlehandedly decide what is true and what is false. The law provides no guidance nor does it outline clear standards on how to determine which statements may be taken down.