Source: CNA.

Select Committee formed to study how to manage deliberate online falsehoods

It is revealed on Thursday (11 January) that the Committee of Selection in Parliament has announced the members comprising the Select Committee set up chosen to study how to manage the issue of deliberate online falsehoods in Singapore.

As proposed earlier by the Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam, the composition of the Select Committee to be a default position is for 10 members, comprising of eight Government MPs, one Opposition MP and one NMP.

The Committee will be chaired by Deputy Speaker Mr Charles Chong and comprise of members; Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information and for Education Janil Puthucheary, Social and Family Development Minister Desmond Lee, Members of Parliament (MPs) Rahayu Mahzam, Seah Kian Peng, Sun Xueling and Edwin Tong, as well as Workers’ Party MP Pritam Singh and Nominated Member of Parliament Chia Yong Yong.

It will examine and report into the problem of deliberate online falsehoods and recommend strategies to deal with them.

In his speech at the Parliament on Wednesday, Mr Shanmugam said that there are three reasons why the Committee should be formed as there is a very high internet penetration in Singapore as more than 91% of Singaporean households have internet access; the diversity, as a multi-racial, multi-religious society, which makes it easy to exploit the fault-lines through falsehoods; and the country’s international position, both in this region and internationally, which makes Singapore an attractive target.

Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim also delivered his speech in support of the move, saying that Singapore has fallen victim to foreign interference through falsehoods and misinformation.

However, several MPs and Nominated MPs have noted in their speeches that there are already existing laws that can deal with the negative effects of “fake news” that the government is concerned about, such as the Sedition Act, defamation law, Protection Against Harassment Act and etc. The Ministry of Communication and Information also possess powers to take down information and to restrict access to websites which it deems illegal or inappropriate.