Anti-Fake News Bill to be debated in Parliament today (March 29)

KUALA LUMPUR: The controversial Anti-Fake News Bill 2018 is expected to be debated in the Dewan Rakyat later Thursday (March 29).

According to the Dewan Rakyat's Order Paper, the Bill is slotted at No 4 for its second reading in the House's agenda for the day.

Before it, there are three motions from the Ministry of Finance which could be debated as well. However, it is unclear how long the debates on these motions could last.

The Bill, which was tabled for its first reading on Monday (March 26), sees heavy penalties imposed on those who knowingly create and spread fake news.

Anyone who “by any means, knowingly creates, offers, publishes, prints, distributes, circulates or disseminates any fake news or publication containing fake news commits an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine, not exceeding RM500,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years or to both,” the Bill proposes.

Anyone found guilty of abetment will also face the same punishment provided for the offence.

The proposed Bill was tabled by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said on Monday.

It seeks to deal with fake news by providing for certain offences and measures to curb the dissemination of such news or related matters.

“As the technology advances with time, the dissemination of fake news becomes a global concern and more serious that it affects the public,” reads the Bill.

The Bill also seeks to safeguard the public against the spread of fake news whilst ensuring the right to freedom of speech and expression under the Federal Constitution is respected, the Government said.

“With the proposed Act, it is hoped that the public be more responsible and cautious in sharing news and information,” the Bill reads.

However, the proposed legislation has come under fire from critics who argue that it could be used to exert government control over the media and could lead to an authoritarian form of government.

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