The proposed law seeks to penalise those who create, offer, circulate, print and publish fake news or publications containing fake news with a jail term of up to 10 years, a maximum fine of RM500,000, or both.
Those found guilty of persisting in spreading fake news will be further subject to a fine of RM100,000 if they fail to remove such publications and a maximum fine of RM3,000 for every day the “offence” continues to be committed.
According to the Bill, fake news is interpreted as any news, information, data and reports which is or are wholly or partly false whether in the form of features, visuals or audio recordings or in any other form capable of suggesting words or ideas.
Publication is interpreted as any written publication or similar in nature and every reproduction of such publications.
It also added that any person who directly or indirectly provides financial aid intending it be used for the purpose of facilitating the offence can also be fined up to RM500,000, or jailed up to 10 years, or both upon conviction.
Anyone found guilty of abetment will also face the same punishment provided for the offence.
When it comes to a business, the Bill states that any person responsible for the management of any affairs, such as the director, chief executive officer, manager secretary or other similar officers of the corporation, may be charged either separately or jointly in the same proceedings with the corporate body.
Under the proposed law, the Sessions Court will be empowered to order the convicted person to make an apology to the person affected. Failure to comply shall be punishable as contempt of court.
The Sessions Court may also order a police officer or an authorised officer under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 to take necessary measures to remove such publication through an ex-parte application made by the person affected by the publication of the fake news.
The Bill provides for extra-territorial application, meaning that those found to have spread fake news outside Malaysia will be dealt with in the same manner as if the offence was committed within the country, regardless if they are citizens or not.
However, the Bill did not outline how the said individual would be tried under Malaysian law.