"Fake news" laws on the rise globally during the coronavirus pandemic
Legal measures arbitrarily targeting "fake news" are picking up global steam.
Driving the news: The ACLU has filed a lawsuit on behalf of two Puerto Rican journalists who fear that two recent "fake news" laws will be used to punish them for their reporting on the coronavirus crisis.
- The Puerto Rico laws make it a crime for journalists to report information about emergencies that the government considers “fake news."
- They technically only apply to “false information,” but ACLU argues that the broad-based definition will inevitably be used to suppress true information.
The big picture: The tactic of targeting the press under the guise of stopping "fake news" is increasingly becoming more normalized.
- Hungary's government passed a law in March that gives the government power to punish those who spread "false information" about the pandemic with up to five years in prison.
- The Philippines passed a law in March that says journalists may face jail sentences of up to two months for "spreading false information" about the virus and a fine of up to $20,000, per CNN.
- Singapore last year passed a law last year which allows the government to force online platforms to remove or correct information that it believes is false.
The bottom line: These examples and several others show ways the press is being shut out by the governments globally under the guise of stopping pandemic misinformation.