New technologies a threat to civil liberties, but not how you imagine

Singapore lawmakers are pursuing anti-fake news legislation that will grant authorities powers of reply, fines of up to $750,000 US Dollars, or 10-years imprisonment for anyone who publishes “fake” information with “malicious intent”.

Singapore lawmakers are pursuing anti-fake news legislation that will grant authorities powers of reply, fines of up to $750,000 US Dollars, or 10-years imprisonment for anyone who publishes “fake” information with “malicious intent”.

Curtis Barnes
5 April 2019, Dominion Post, Stuff.co.nz Politics

Curtis Barnes provides comment for the Dominion Post on how regulatory zeal towards new technologies is being used to pursue repressive legislation that otherwise could not succeed on its own.

Key points:

  1. Concepts like fake news and harmful information must be seen in the context of a much older phenomenon of humans sharing belief and opinion, and the old debate over the reasonable limitations for this in a free society.

  2. New laws responding to this phenomenon emphasise its novelty and unprecedented risks as a justification for repressive regulations. These regulations are invariably enacted for the protection of citizens, and intentionally or incidentally, grant dangerous powers to authorities.

  3. The dialogue over harmful expression through use of the internet and digital technologies is necessary. But it must be placed in context, and it must proceed from a position that understands the extreme risk of new technologies being used as vessels for regulatory overreach.