Singapore’s government introduces bill to stop foreign interference

Bill targets content that can lead to sudden and serious harm in Singapore, such as inciting violence or causing hostility between groups, harmful content to be blocked.

On Monday, a bill was introduced by Singapore’s government in parliament, to put a stop to foreign interference in domestic politics, which brings forward empowering authorities to issue the disassemble orders against “hostile information campaigns”.

The Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Bill targets content that “can lead to sudden and serious harm in Singapore, such as inciting violence or causing hostility between groups,” said the home ministry to Reuters. If social media companies stopped following the requests,  harmful content can be directed to block by the local Internet service providers. The applications that are used to spread such harmful content, can be blocked from downloading.

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

It described those as “covert, coordinated and sophisticated” activities which direct controlling public opinion, bringing down democratic institutions, separating the society, affecting election outcomes. Whereas the Singaporeans can still express their political views, unless they were agents of a foreign entity says Ministry. Adding further the Ministry said, “it would not be applied to foreign individuals or foreign publications ‘reporting or commenting on Singapore politics, in an open, transparent and attributable way’, even if critical of Singapore or its government.” The bill was introduced in 2019, of a far-reaching fake news law that rights groups informed that could hurt freedom of expression. Authorities have got the right to correct the statement in which they see any kind of false, in which legitimate criticism and free speech remain unaffected.

“It was looking closely at what the latest bill would mean for its products and services in Singapore, adding it remains committed to protecting users and the integrity of its platforms, including by combating coordinated influence operations,” Alphabet-owned Google told Reuters.

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