Malaysia today approved a new law that would punish citizens on social media or those who work in a digital publication for spreading false news with a fine of RM 500,000 ($ 123,000) and a possible prison sentence of up to six years. Led by Prime Minister Najib Razak, the Anti-Fake News bill was approved in parliament today despite opponents who criticized the bill for possibly hindering freedom of expression and attempting to censor the prime minister's participation in a referendum. scandal of billions of dollars.
A draft of the bill had specified a prison sentence of up to 10 years as punishment, but the government reduced it to 6 in the final version, as reported by Reuters. Cases of false news will be handled by an independent judicial process. Violators could even include those outside of Malaysia, as long as they write about the country or its people.
The Malaysian law defines false news as "news, information, data and reports that are or are totally or partially false". The news includes stories, videos and audio content.
Malaysia is one of the first countries to implement a state ban on fake news that punishes the party that posts the offensive content. Throughout the world, countries are grappling with how to deal with the spread of harmful content or misinformation in their nations. Last year, Germany presented a plan that fined social media platforms if they did not eliminate publications that included hate speech. Regulators in the Philippines had been debating how to deal with false news in their own country, but in February they said that banning false news would be "unconstitutional." Meanwhile, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted in an interview today that the company did not do enough to prevent the spread of sensationalist anti-Muslim and anti-Rohingya messages on its Messenger platform.
Fake news bill has been approved. It is a dark day for our press freedom and the freedom of expression of ordinary people. It will be in full force very soon and many – many people will be arrested. The Malaysian public will begin to silence itself. a premature act, badly thought. Louis Liaw (@louisliaw) April 2, 2018