Govt tables anti-fake news bill for first reading

 |Mar 26, 2018
File pic credit Facebook Azalina Othman Said.

KUALA LUMPUR: The government tabled its Anti-Fake News Bill 2018 for the first reading in Parliament today.

The proposed law seeks to penalise those who create, offer, circulate, print and publish fake news or publications containing fake news with a jail term of up to 10 years, a maximum fine of RM500,000, or both.

Those found guilty of persisting in spreading fake news will be further subject to a fine of RM300,000 for every day the “offence” is committed.

According to the Bill, fake news is interpreted as any news, information, data and reports which is or are wholly or partly false whether in the form of features, visuals or audio recordings or in any other form capable of suggesting words or ideas.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, the de facto law minister had said that the law was solely meant to protect people from fake news, and not meant to block one’s freedom of expression.

There are eight scenarios listed in the Bill in which a person can be charged and slapped with a fine up of to RM500,000 or jailed up to 10 years, or both.

1. When B publishes ‘fake news’ from A unknowingly: A is guilty

If person B publishes on his blog news that he received from person A without knowing if the information was false, he is not found guilty. Instead, it is the latter who is found guilty.

2. When A publishes ‘fake news’ on Z: A is guilty

Person A is guilty if he had fabricated an information in an article published in his blog claiming that person Z, a well-known businessman has obtained business contracts by offering bribes.

3. When B shares A’s ‘fake news’ on Z knowing it was false: A and B are guilty

Person B, is also found guilty if he knew that that the abovementioned piece of information about Z had been fabricated and yet published it on his social media account.

4. When A publishes ‘fake news’ advertisement on Z’s success: A is guilty

Person A is guilty if he advertises a caricature of person Z depicting the latter as a successful investor in an investment scheme, when Z was never involved in such activity.

5. When A shares ‘fake news’ on Z’s product when it no longer exists: A is guilty

Person A is found guilty if he publishes on his social media account that person Z’s company contains harmful ingredients and is being sold to the public knowing that the production of the food product had been discontinued years ago, and not available for public consumption.

6. When A impersonates government agency and issues ‘fake news’: A is guilty

Person A is punishable if he impersonates a government agency by creating a website and publishing a guideline purportedly issued by a head of the agency, which never existed.

7. When A tells ‘fake news’ about Z in a public forum: A is guilty

The Bill said that person A is guilty if he informs the public via a public forum that Z had misappropriated funds collected for charitable purposes knowing that the information is false.

8. When A announces ‘fake news’ about Z in press conference: A is guilty

Person A is guilty if he claims in a press conference that Z, an owner of a supermarket, will give out free gifts to the first one hundred customers of his supermarket on every first Saturday of the month when such a deed was never the intentions of Z.