FREEDOM OF MISINFORMATION AND THE RELEVANCE OF CO-REGULATION IN MALAYSIA: A CROSS-JURISDICTIONAL ANALYSIS
Keywords:fake news, disinformation, self-regulation, co-regulation, online fact-checking portals
The spread of fake news on COVID-19 is causing public unrest and suspicion among citizens which is a challenge for countries facing the pandemic. The misinformation or disinformation which stems from uncertainties, unrest, and anxiety because of movement control order procedures, financial and economic hardship caused wrong information to spread like fire. Often referred to as ‘info-demic’, it becomes a second source of virulent information that requires arresting just like the pandemic itself. Controlling fake news in a pandemic is a daunting problem that slaps Internet regulation on its face. On the Internet, lies spread faster than the truth, and correcting this misinformation is a tonne of work. In this paper, we examine Internet self- and co-regulatory approaches in selected jurisdictions to reduce the impact of fake news on governments, industry, and private actors. Through a qualitative method and doctrinal content analysis, this article examines the various approaches adopted in arresting fake news. In the first section, we analysed specific legislation enacted by parliaments that criminalised the acts of disseminating and publishing fake news. In the second section, we found efforts to impose civil and criminal liability on platform providers to monitor online content. In the final section, we analysed self- and co-regulatory efforts to introduce online fact-checking portals and awareness campaigns. This research argues that the Internet self-regulation system in Malaysia is not bringing the desired result i.e., maintaining peace and security of the nation. Considering the impact of dangerous misinformation on society, more so in a global emergency like the present COVID-19 pandemic, it is submitted that co-regulation is more suitable if the social, moral, and cultural fabric of the society is to be maintained.
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