Task force to help draft law on ‘fake news’, says Azalina

azalina-fake-news-1PUTRAJAYA: A special task force has been formed to study new laws to act against “fake news” that could threaten political stability, as well as undermine public order and national security.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Azalina Othman Said said the task force met for the first time last week.

It included representatives from the police, the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC), the legal affairs division of the Prime Minister’s Department, the National Security Council, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), and the communications and multimedia ministry.

Azalina said Prime Minister Najib Razak had also agreed to let relevant non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and MPs to be part of the task force.

“This is to ensure that the government’s efforts in addressing this issue receives the support of various parties and goes through the negotiation process with all stakeholders,” she said in a statement here today.

She added that once the process was completed, a proposal would be submitted to the cabinet for consideration.

Azalina said the government also hoped that the new law could be brought to Parliament in the next sitting.

She said there were some legislative acts in place at present to deal with the issue, such as Section 8A of the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) 1984.

“Therefore, it is appropriate for the government to examine whether the existing provisions can still be used to address new threats which are not only published in print and broadcast, but also in online media,” she said.

Azalina said new measures to tackle the dissemination of “fake news” should be taken so that the public would be more responsible in publishing, disseminating and sharing news, and ensuring that national security is maintained.

On Sunday, the prime minister said the government would consider introducing new legislation to curb the spread of “fake news”, following similar moves by several other countries.

According to media reports, British Prime Minister Theresa May has expressed the need to set up a new unit to step up efforts to tackle the spread of “fake news” and prevent the distribution of false information by other countries.

French President Emmanuel Macron was also reported to have said he wanted to introduce a new law which banned “fake news” from being spread online during an election campaign.

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