A Practical Guide to Malaysia’s Anti-Fake News Act
May08

A Practical Guide to Malaysia’s Anti-Fake News Act

Key Takeaways: Malaysia’s Anti-Fake News Act is in effect and being enforced. The Act applies to the publication of information in any form which is wholly or partly false. Media companies, whether “traditional” or online media, should review policies and processes to avoid inadvertently falling foul of the requirements. Introduction: The term “fake news”, used to describe fabricated news or misinformation in the media, has attracted much attention recently – not only as used by President Trump to refer to certain media outlets but also by policy-makers around the world, who are weighing up whether and how to regulate it. One of the first countries in the world to introduce specific legislation is Malaysia, which introduced its Anti-Fake News Act on 11 April 2018. In this post, we look at what the Act requires and what it means for media companies. What is the Anti-Fake News Act? Malaysia enacted the Anti-Fake News Act 2018 on 11 April 2018. The Act has implications for anyone who publishes or distributes, or facilitates the publication or distribution of, news or any kind of public information. In particular, media companies – both traditional media outlets such as print, TV and radio, as well as online media and social media platforms – should be aware of the Act and its implications for the company’s practices. Failure to comply may attract hefty penalties for the company and its directors. How is “Fake News” defined? Under the Act, it is an offence to maliciously create, publish, distribute or otherwise disseminate “fake news”. This term is broadly defined to include any news or information in any form, which is wholly or partly false. The Act provides a non-exhaustive list of examples of offences under the Act, including: Publishing a statement on your social media account that a food product contains harmful ingredients and is being sold to the public, knowing that the food product has been discontinued and is no longer sold to the public Publishing an advertisement containing a caricature depicting someone as a successful investor in an investment scheme, knowing that person is not involved in the scheme Giving a speech at a public forum saying that someone has misappropriated moneys collected for charitable purposes, knowing that this is not true Holding a press conference claiming that the owner of supermarket will give out free gifts to customers on the first Saturday of each month, knowing that the owner has no intention to do so The broad application of the Act extends beyond the reach of existing defamation laws (which generally require proof of damage to one’s reputation) and media laws such as the Printing...

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