Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam has clarified that netizens who unknowingly share fake news in good faith will not be jailed, as he sat down with tech and lifestyle site Vulcan Post to respond to netizens’ concerns on the recently passed Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA).
POFMA is an anti-fake news law that was passed in Parliament last week, after a fierce debate that took place over two days. The new law, which will provide the government with powers to act against online falsehoods to protect public interest, intends to give ministers the authority to determine what is an online falsehood and whether to take action.
The vote to pass the bill was not unanimous – in the final division, all nine Workers’ Party (WP) parliamentarians rejected the bill while Nominated MPs (NMPs) Anthea Ong, Walter Theseira and Irene Quay abstained from voting. 72 MPs supported the bill.
Among other questions and concerns, Mr Shanmugam responded to a netizen’s query about whether her parents might go to jail under the new law since they might unknowingly share fake news.
The Minister replied that there is “no criminal liability” and “no civil liability” for those who share fake news “in good faith”. He said:
“If you receive something and in good faith you forward it, as most people do, you share, you like it – no problem. There is no criminal liability, there is no civil liability. At most, you will receive a correction.
“So you don’t even need to worry about jail and so on. That is for people who are sitting there, actively creating the false news. Sometimes to make money, sometimes to create trouble, you put out a falsehood – those are the only people, most people are not like that.” .-/TISG
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