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Malaysia wants to outlaw 'fake news' — but human rights groups are wary

The Malaysian government proposed a bill Monday to outlaw "fake news," suggesting major fines and jail time for those who publish "wholly or partly false" information.

If the bill is passed, anyone who publishes fake news, either in print, online, or on social media, could face up to 10 years in jail, be fined up to $128,140, or both. The government has proposed the bill in the hopes that the public will be more responsible and cautious in sharing information, reports Reuters.

The Anti-Fake News 2018 bill was tabled by Prime Minister Najib Razak, whose government has reacted swiftly to harsh media reporting in the past, suspending websites and a newspaper that accused Najib of funneling state money into his personal bank accounts.

But some lawmakers and advocacy groups worry that the bill represents an escalation of hostility towards the media and suppresses freedom of speech. Reuters reports that human rights group Amnesty International called for the bill to be abandoned, and Malaysian journalists said it would give the government "unquestionable power" to shut down critical coverage.

The Malaysian parliament is expected to vote on the bill this week. Read more at Reuters.