Committee to fight fake news begins public hearings

A high-level parliamentary committee, looking at ways Singapore can thwart deliberate online falsehoods, starts its public hearings today.

Over three days this week, the Select Committee will engage with an initial group of more than 20 representatives, including academics at local and foreign universities, as well as spokesmen from religious organisations in Singapore.

They include Institute of Policy Studies senior research fellow Carol Soon, Dr Shashi Jayakumar of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) and European Values Think-Tank director Jakub Janda, who will take part via video conference.

The rest to appear before the 10-member committee will do so over the next two weeks.

In all, 79 individuals and organisations will go before the committee, the highest number to appear before a Select Committee.

The current committee, chaired by Deputy Speaker Charles Chong, is notable for two other record-breaking reasons.

It has the highest number of full-day hearings, lasting eight days in all, and has received the most written representations, at 164.

The hearings will encompass several themes to elucidate the issue.

These include: The phenomenon of deliberate online falsehoods as a serious global problem, the way technology has worsened the problem and what technology companies are doing to tackle it.

They will also explore how falsehoods affect different parties here, the various ways Singapore can respond and the merits of different options, like legislation.

Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam, who is on the Select Committee, told reporters at an event yesterday that he hoped the hearings would give people a better understanding of the issues Singapore and the world face with online falsehoods.