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Singapore defends controversial “fake news” law in face of coronavirus

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After the removal of a Facebook page in Singapore for allegedly hosting fake news, the social network expressed concern that these actions may affect free speech in the country.

The Singapore government responded by criticizing Facebook’s attitude.

A new try to control the internet

The entire conflict began last month when Facebook received an order requiring them to block a page called The States Times Review hosted in Singapore, since – according to the government – it was spreading false information and they did not comply with the orders that were given to correct the situation.

At the time, the social network indicated that these measures could serve as precedents for other countries to do the same, putting online free speech at risk.

Finally, the Singapore government positioned itself against the opinion of the social network saying that this reaction was to be expected because Facebook has always had freedom of action and that they are not used to being regulated, which has distanced them from their comfort zone.

According to Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran, these regulations are the only way to preserve the proper functioning of government policies and have been applied proportionately.

The way to pave the future

Iswaran said that through the fake news law, the government is paving the way for future investments in technology, such as the implementation of 5G networks.

Companies like Twitter and Google have servers in the nation and have had to adapt to the laws to continue offering their services in Asia.

To avoid problems, Iswaran said that the law was consulted with representatives of different technology companies so that it was versatile and allowed them to continue working.

Despite some complaints from U.S. companies and opposition politicians, Singapore has experienced a tremendous growth in its technology market. In the first nine months of 2019, 437 venture deals were installed, representing a 36% growth compared to the same period of the previous year.

The minister also took advantage of the interview to indicate that thanks to Covid-19, social networks have become a fundamental way of disseminating information to avoid a pandemic.

“I can imagine there is a certain allergic reaction to that” because Facebook is moving into a more regulated environment, said Iswaran, who oversees a large part of Singapore’s technology initiatives as well as relations with major trade partners. “We are quite clear that we must take action against some of the adverse consequences because if not, it can undermine the confidence in our institutions and ultimately our whole democracy. And the way we have been exercising our powers has been proportionate.”

Watch the video interview on Bloomberg here.

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