Singapore’s anti-fake news law: the first eight months

Singapore’s Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) gives the government various powers to restrict the communication of falsehoods. POFMA is a landmark in the efforts of legislators around the world to tackle the problem of ‘fake news’: it is one of the most extensive laws of its kind, and lawmakers in at least one other jurisdiction (Nigeria) have used it as a model.

From inception, POFMA raised controversies about potential implications for the freedom of expression as well as for judicial oversight over executive power. I aim to take the discussion beyond the surface of the statute by discussing the legislative process, instances in which the Government has deployed POFMA, and the courts’ responses. I aim to explore POFMA as a case study not only in the status and content of various constitutional norms and their tension with contemporary demands, but also in how these norms can be tacitly shaped and elaborated on by legislatures, courts, and legal subjects.