Asian countries launch phoney assaults on fake news

Apr 05, 2018

IF THE bill that the lower house of Malaysia’s parliament passed on April 2nd becomes law, those who publish or spread “any news, information, data and reports which is, or are, wholly or partly false” are liable to six years in prison and a fine of 500,000 ringgit ($130,000). Critics scoff that the government is guilty of many such falsehoods, and will have to start by prosecuting itself. But the government contends that the bill is needed to patch gaps in existing legislation, allowing faster action to stop the spread of calumny through social media as well as in print. It will also punish third parties caught financing the dispersion of dodgy material.

The minister of communications, Salleh Said Keruak, says the bill is “clear and specific” and will not hamper free speech. “I think we can take comfort that we have not veered too far off a track that others may take. We just decided to be ahead of the pack,” says one of his staff.

In neighbouring Singapore, discussions about...

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