Malaysia threatens ten years in jail for spreading fake news


Malaysia mulls up to 10 years' jail, fines for 'fake news' | Bangkok Post: news

THE Malaysian government is looking to impose a hefty fine and a lengthy prison sentence for the dissemination of fake news in a Bill that is expected to be bulldozed ahead of the looming elections.

Under the Anti-Fake News Bill, those convicted of disseminating false content would be jailed or fined up to RM500,000 ($128,000; £90,400), or both.

Ergo, a section of the Bill that covers the creation, publication, and distribution of fake news could easily cover topics that are not news, such as satirical works.

"With both Singapore and the Philippines considering their own "fake news" legislation, we call on all countries in the region to refrain from following this unsafe trend", the statement reads.

In this connection, new elements will be introduced in this bill.

"The vague terms of reference in the bill shows the standard government's strategy in stifling the free flow of information", said Eric Loo, senior fellow of journalism at the University of Wollongong in Australia. Among the proposals are to not restrict the offences to Malaysia, which demonstrates the government's seriousness in addressing the issue of fake news spread by those outside Malaysia. "What's important now is fake news is a real threat", he told a press conference yesterday.

The polls must take place before August 24.

"In the proposed law, it says, "'Fake news' includes any news, information, data and reports, which is or are wholly or partly false, whether in the form of features, visuals or audio recordings or in any other form capable of suggesting words or ideas".

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Dr Mahathir, met after the briefing, had claimed that the Bill was only meat to silence the voice of the opposition.

That is a baseless allegation and purely politically motivated.

Salleh Keruak, a cabinet minister and Najib supporter wrote in a blog on Sunday: "Foreign media reports are not balanced but very one-sided giving the impression that everything about the government is bad while the opposition is [angelic]".

Separately, Communications and Multimedia minister Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak also said in parliament that WhatsApp (84%) is the top source of fake news among Malaysians, followed by Facebook (8%), blogs and other sources (4%), the New Straits Times reported.

The proposed law said fake news was becoming a "global concern" and the new legislation was aimed at safeguarding the public, as well as ensuring the right to freedom of expression.

The bill is of a deterrent nature, to give a clear message that each individual should be responsible for the sharing of true and healthy information. As fake news rule social media, surely stringent rules are needed to save the world from wrong information.

While the governments attempt to sharpen tools to strengthen its hold on power, there is a strong need to weaken the weapon of fake news for reason best known.

This bill expresses the government commitment to address the dissemination of fake news due to the rapid and intensive growth of communication technology.

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