Singapore's sweeping anti-fake news law, which critics warn could be used to suppress free speech in the already tightly controlled Asian city-state, came into force Wednesday.
Under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill, it is now illegal to spread "false statements of fact" under circumstances in which that information is deemed "prejudicial" to Singapore's security, public safety, "public tranquility," or to the "friendly relations of Singapore with other countries," among numerous other topics.
Government ministers can decide whether to order something deemed fake news to be taken down or for a correction to be put up alongside it. They can also order technology companies such as Facebook and Google -- both of which opposed the bill during its fast-tracked process through parliament -- to block accounts or sites spreading false information.
The act also provides for prosecutions of individuals, who can face fines of up to 50,000 SGD (over $36,000), and, or, up to five years in prison. If the alleged falsehood is posted using "an inauthentic online account or controlled by a bot," the total potential fine rises to 100,000 SGD (around $73,000), and, or, up to 10 years in prison.