Singapore has passed a bill that forces media to correct and remove content that the government considers to be false, a move which will have a “chilling effect on internet freedom” according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).
The bill has been criticised by rights groups, journalists and tech firms as it could be used to clamp down on freedom of speech.
“The absence of clear protection for expression pose real risks that it will be misused to clamp down on the free exchange and expression of opinions and information,” Frederick Rawski said, the Asia Pacific director for International Commission of Jurists.
The Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation bill was passed on Wednesday and will cover a broad range of platforms, including social media and news websites. Penalties for perpetrators include prison sentences of up to ten years or fines up to S$1m (£563,000).
The authorities say that the new bill will protect citizens from fake news.
“Free speech should not be affected by this bill. We are talking here about falsehoods,” law minister K Shanmugam said.
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