The Parliament has voted in favour to form a select committee to examine the causes and consequences of deliberate falsehoods online.
In his opening speech for the motion proposed, Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam spoke of how countries around the world have become the subjects of "organised, deliberate disinformation campaigns".
The exponential rise in the speed of communication has also made Singapore a “highly susceptible” target given the high Internet penetration rate of 91 per cent households having web access.
If left unchecked, deliberate online falsehoods could undermine Singaporeans' trust in institutions and the country's social cohesion.
Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim also spoke in support of the motion citing how Singapore has fallen victim to foreign interference through falsehoods and misinformation before.
The 10-MP select committee will be chaired by Deputy Speaker Charles Chong. Once it is formed, the committee will examine the causes and consequences of deliberate online falsehoods, and may also canvas for public feedback and consult widely in open public hearings, with the goal to recommend countermeasures against the threat.
Although the proliferation of falsehoods online is a problem, however there were also concerns raised if future legislation would impede freedom of speech online, with many calling for educational campaigns to help the public discern between genuine and fake news instead.
Source: “Parliament: House votes unanimously to form committee looking into fake news” (The Straits Times, 11 Jan 2018)