The Parliament of Singapore passed last May a law against uploading and spreading false information. It requires online media platforms any government ministry accuses of carrying “fake news” to correct or remove the offending material, and penalizes those responsible with 10-year prison terms and fines of up to one million Singapore dollars (about US$740,000). The bad news is that the Philippine Congress could do the same thing.
Singapore passed early last May an anti-“fake news” law that will be implemented this month. The “Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation” Act gives government the power to compel online news sites and even chat groups to remove statements “against the public interest” and to correct them. Not only individuals will be affected but also social media and news organizations like BBC and Reuters.
Now on its 26th year in the Philippines — March 29, 2019 marked the 25th year since the country was “wired” into it — the global communication network known as the Internet has been rightly hailed as another milestone in providing the perennial human need for information.
His attacks on the press are “repulsive,” and “he should be the figure of suspicion, not the press,” when it comes to “fake news.” A president who “constantly deflects and distorts and distracts — who must find someone else to blame — is charting a very dangerous path.”
Whether they’re in the opposition or administration side, the distinguished senators of this endangered Republic, who’re otherwise hopelessly fractious, share one thing: their hatred for “fake news” — and a consequent, irrepressible urge to penalize its disseminators.
That’s what last week’s hearings on the subject led by the Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media chaired by Senator Grace Poe suggests, among other equally troublesome implications on press freedom, free expression, and the little that’s left of Philippine democracy.