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Singapore Tackles Social Media Platforms to Fight “Foreign Interference”, Marketing & Advertising News, ET BrandEquity

Office workers spend their lunch breaks in the central business district amid Singapore’s COVID-19 outbreak

The Singapore government on Monday introduced a bill in parliament to prevent what it called foreign interference in domestic policy, which proposes to empower authorities to issue withdrawal orders against “information campaigns hostile “.

The Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Bill targets content that “can cause immediate and significant damage to Singapore, such as incitement to violence or hostility between groups,” the ministry said. the Interior.

If social media companies do not comply with requests, Internet service providers can be ordered to block harmful content locally. The bill also proposes to block downloads of applications used to distribute such content.

“We have also seen many cases in recent years where social media and communication technologies have been used by entities to mount HICs against other countries,” the ministry said, referring to information campaigns. hostile.

He described them as “covert, coordinated and sophisticated” activities aimed at manipulating public opinion, subverting democratic institutions, polarizing society or influencing election results.

The ministry said the law would not apply to Singaporeans expressing political opinions, unless they are agents of a foreign entity.

It would also not apply to foreign individuals or foreign publications “that report or comment on Singapore politics in an open, transparent and accountable manner”, even if they criticize Singapore or its government.

The bill follows the introduction in 2019 of a sweeping fake news law that rights groups say could undermine freedom of expression.

This law allows authorities to issue orders to correct what they consider to be false statements. The government says legitimate criticism and freedom of expression are unaffected.

The interim order of the Bombay High Court is a strong indication that important parts of the operative part of Part III of the IT rules may ultimately be overturned as unconstitutional.

More than 70 of these orders have been issued, including to social media giants like Facebook and Twitter, requiring them to give correction notices to users in Singapore. Alphabet’s Google told Reuters it was taking a close look at what the latest bill would mean for its products and services in Singapore, adding that it remained committed to protecting users and the integrity of its platforms, including by fighting against “coordinated influence operations”.


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