Jail, RM100,000 fine for those who spread fake news on Covid-19, Emergency from Friday (March 12)

PETALING JAYA: Beginning Friday (March 12), those who create, publish or disseminate fake news relating to Covid-19 or the Emergency proclamation could face a fine, jail term or both, according to the Federal Government Gazette.

According to the new Emergency (Essential Powers) (No. 2) Ordinance 2021 published on Thursday (March 11), those who spread fake news "by any means, with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause fear or alarm to the public" could face a fine not exceeding RM100,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or both, if found guilty.

The Ordinance states that the courts may order the removal of a publication if it is deemed to be fake news.

The courts could also order the perpetrators to issue an apology, of which failure to do so may result in an additional fine of up to RM50,000, a jail term of under a year, or both.

The Ordinance also states that the law applies to any person involved in the dissemination of fake news both within the country and abroad, regardless of nationality, given that the fake news in question affects Malaysia or a Malaysian citizen.

The gazette defines fake news as "any news, information, data and reports, which is or are wholly or partly false relating to Covid-19 or the proclamation of Emergency, whether in the forms of features, visuals or audio recordings or in any other form capable of suggesting words or ideas."

In the case of a continuing offence, perpetrators could face a further fine not exceeding RM1,000 for every day during which the offence continues after conviction.

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