Complete guide to POFMA (Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act)
After a lot of controversy and debate, finally, Singapore’s fake news laws (i.e., the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act, or “POFMA”) was passed in the parliament a few years ago on 8 May 2019 with more than 70 voted and later this law came into effect on 2 October 2019.
If you are interested in learning more about POFMA, continue to read the article since it gives an overview of the POFMA and ways to file an appeal.
What is the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act
As mentioned in the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA), the POFMA office issues the declaration or directions to combat all forms of online misinformation.
The following are some examples of declarations or directions that might be issued:
Correction directions: To issue the notice mentioning the false statement or notice concerning the statement of fact.
Avoid communication directions: To stop transferring false or inaccurate information.
Directions to internet intermediaries (such as Google, Facebook or Twitter) and mass media services providers: The initiative to either correct or block access to false information
Directions to internet intermediaries: To eliminate all fake accounts and bots from its platforms.
Declaration of online locations.
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When to appeal to the court
The High Court may hear your case if you receive a POFMA direction or declaration if you satisfy both the following conditions:
By applying the relevant Minister, you intend to vary or cancel the POFMA directions or declarations.
You have received a rejection from the Minister regarding your request to amend or modify the direction or declaration, either fully or partially.
Once the minister has rejected your application, you still have 14 days to file the appeal in the high court.
The appellant is the person who files the appeal.
Note: An attorney must represent LLPs, unincorporated associations, and unincorporated companies during the appeal process.
You must pay both court fees and hearing fees to appeal.
The court filing fees are as follows:
|Item or service||Fee|
|File the originating summons||$200|
|File an affidavits (Including exhibits)||· (Up to 10 pages) $10|
· (More than 10 pages) $1 per page
The hearing fees vary depending on how long the case takes:
|Days 1 to 3||No fees|
|Day 6-10||$3,000 per day|
|Subsequent days||$5,000 per day|
If you cannot pay the required fees, you might request a waiver or refund of the fees. This needs to be done at the appeal hearing in the high court, or the other option is by submitting the written request within 1 month after the appeal. Upon submitting the request, the court will be the deciding authority to grant the complete refund amount or some part of the fees.
How to file an appeal
These are a few given steps that will help you file an appeal in the general division of the high court.
- File the Originating Summons and supporting affidavit
Following are the documents you may need to file via eLitigation:
- As per Form 1 of the POFMA Rules, you need an Originating document to file via eLitigation.
- As per Form 2 of the POFMA Rules, the valid supporting affidavit document.
You have two options to file the appeal; you can use either file personally or through the lawyer. If you are filling personally without the lawyer’s representation, you will be required to file in person at the LawNet & CrimsonLogic Service Bureau.
In the case that a lawyer represents you, they will be responsible to file the documents.
- Attend before the duty registrar
Based on the time you applied, you need to attend either on a filling day or the very next day (working day).
Once you have filed the Originating Summons and supporting affidavit, you need to visit the Supreme Court Legal Registry (situated at Level 2 of the Supreme Court) to ask for the hearing date for the appeal. You must appear before the Duty Registrar. Obtain a queue number at the Legal Registry to contact the duty registrar.
The time to attend the duty registrar defends on the date of filling OS:
|Time of filling||Time to attend|
|If you filed the OS in between the specified office hours of legal registry.||In that case you will need to attend on the same day.|
|If you filled the OS once the office hours of legal registry is completed.||In that case, you will need to attend the office the very next working day.|
The court will schedule a hearing date of appeal, the 6th working of the following given dates:
- Once you attend before the duty registrar.
- Upon acceptance of date of the OS and supporting affidavit.
Suppose you visit the duty registrar on 2 January, and your originating summons and supporting affidavit document get accepted on 3rd January. Most probably, your hearing will be 6 working days following the acceptance of OS and supporting affidavits.
Due to any of the reasons, if you are unable to attend the duty registrar within the specified deadline, then there are chances that the registrar may re-schedule a pre-trial conference or a hearing date that suits fine for them. Usually, the hearing date is scheduled within 6 working days upon the acceptance of OS and supporting affidavit by the registry. Court dates may be altered, subject to court approval if you cannot appear at the scheduled court date.
Suppose you have filled the hearing through LawNet & CrimsonLogic Service Bureau. In that case, the service bureau will keep you informed regarding the date to visit the counter to collect the accepted copies of the OS and supporting affidavit once the hearing date has passed been scheduled by the court.
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- Serve your OS and supporting affidavit on the Attorney-General
When the registry accepts your documents by noon on the following working day
In the case of the OS and supporting affidavit, you can serve them on the Attorney-General in any of the following ways:
You need to email all the required documents to AGC_POFMA@agc.gov.sg or serve via eLitigation.
If you intend to serve through litigation, let the LawNet & CrimsonLogic Service Bureau know when you file your case.
Those applying in person must leave a copy of their documents at the Attorney-General’s Chambers reception counter, marked with “POFMA Appeal.”.
- File the affidavit of service
You need to file the affidavit of service or registrar certificate of service through the eLitigation no later than two working days following the date specified by the attorney general.
After you file the appeal
Once you have filed the appeal, the minister will oversee and file an affidavit in response to your’s appeal within three working days after the date of service provided on the attorneys general.
Once this is done, no more affidavits will be filed or served until the court approves it.
No matter whether you attend the hearing or not, the court can still proceed with the case.
Upon the success of the appeal, the court will keep aside the POFMA direction of declaration. However, you do not need to comply with it anymore.
You need to comply with the POFMA direction or declaration if your appeal fails. Otherwise, be ready to face the specified charges if you don’t comply.
Through the enactment of POFMA, the government has drastically increased its efforts against online falsehoods and malicious behavior. As a legislative tool, POFMA will help curb the spread of fake news and protect the public from untrue and inaccurate information that leads to social harm. Apart from this, you can connect with Singapore translation if you require legal document translation service at an affordable cost.