The ICJ sent a letter urging Singapore’s government to refrain from passing into law the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill 2019 (‘Online Falsehoods Bill’) in its current form.
The letter was sent to Singapore’s Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Ministers, Minister for Law and Speaker of the Parliament.
The bill is reportedly expected to be adopted and come into force in the second half of 2019.
The ICJ acknowledged the efforts of Singapore’s government to attempt to counteract potential infringements on human rights and fundamental freedoms which may emerge from abusive communications involving the spread of misinformation. It noted however that the bill may, contrary to the object and purpose of its introduction, result in far-reaching limitations on the rights to freedom of expression, opinion and information.
The ICJ indicated that its provisions present a real risk that it can be wielded in an arbitrary manner to curtail important discussion of matters of public interest in the public sphere, including content critical of the government. Critical dissent, free exchange and development of opinions, and free access to information are necessary to maintain an informed society and ensure transparency, accountability and informed debate on crucial matters of public interest.
The letter included a legal briefing highlighting the ICJ’s concerns regarding provisions of the bill which contravene international human rights law and standards.
ICJ, ‘Singapore: Parliament must reject internet regulation bill that threatens freedom of expression’, 4 April 2019, https://www.icj.org/singapore-parliament-must-reject-internet-regulation-bill-that-threatens-freedom-of-expression/AdvocacyNewsOpen letters