Singapore: Combating Fake News: Anti-Doxxing Measures And Other Amendments To The Protection From Harassment Act

Last Updated: 9 September 2019
Article by Quek Li Fei

On 7 May 20191, Parliament passed amendments to the Protection from Harassment Act 2015 Rev Ed ("POHA") to, among other things, streamline and simplify court processes, enhance the powers of the court to make orders in respect of false statements of fact, and clarify that both individuals and entities (excluding public agencies) may be liable for contraventions of certain provisions of the amended act (the "Amended Act").2 The original POHA was enacted in 2014 "to provide a range of criminal and civil remedies against harassment, and civil remedies for false statements of facts". The Amended Act will come into operation on a date to be announced. This article summarizes the amendments to POHA, with a focus on the changes specifically targeted at combating online falsehoods.


In recent years, social media has facilitated the unprecedented spread of deliberate online falsehoods, colloquially known as "fake news". To help combat the deleterious effect fake news has on the public interest, Parliament recently passed the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act ("POFMA")3, which is not yet in force. However, POFMA does not generally cover private individuals or entities. Instead, Parliament will make amendments to the POHA to strengthen the remedies for private individuals and entities who are affected by online falsehoods.

Enhancements to protections for victims of falsehoods

Among the slew of changes introduced under the Amended Act will be measures intended to enhance the remedies and protections available to persons or entities that are victims of falsehoods. These amendments grant a court power to make similar orders that the Minister may make under POFMA, although it should be noted that under the Amended Act, an aggrieved party will first have to apply to court before such an order is made, whereas under POFMA, the Minister can make the relevant order. In particular, section 15 of POHA will be replaced with new sections 15-15E, which gives a court powers to make several types of orders, including the following:

(i) stop publication order requiring the respondent to stop publishing a false statement, or any substantially similar statement, by a specified time;

(ii) correction order requiring the respondent to publish in Singapore a correction notice within a specified time in a specified form and manner; and

(iii) disabling order requiring an internet service provider ("ISP") to disable access by end users of an internet intermediary service provided by the said ISP in Singapore within a specified time to any specified material or copies thereof.

Amended Act to cover both individuals and entities

In the 2017 Court of Appeal case of Attorney-General v Ting Choon Ming [2017] SGCA 64, the Apex Court ruled in a rare split 2-1 decision that private entities cannot invoke section 15 of POHA, which allows persons to stop the publication of false statements of fact against them. The majority ruled that the law only applied to natural persons.

To close this gap5, Parliament has amended POHA to allow both private entities (viz. private legal entities) and individuals to avail themselves of the remedies under section 15 of the Amended Act (it should be noted that if the subject of the alleged falsehood is the Government, it will have to seek remedies under POFMA instead).

The Amendment Act has made it clear that private entities may be held liable in proceedings for harassment related conduct. To this end, the Amended Act provides that private entities may be liable for contravention of certain sections of POHA relating to, inter alia, the failure to comply with orders made under section 15 of the Amended Act.

Criminalisation of doxxing

The publication of personally identifiable information with the intention to harass, threaten or facilitate violence against a victim, also known as doxxing, will be introduced as an offence under the Amended Act.

While doxxing is a form of harassment on its own, sometimes used as retribution meted out by internet vigilantes against perpetrators of outrage-inducing acts that are caught on video and go viral online6, it is also closely related to fake news. Oftentimes, mistakes are made in the identification of the perpetrators, leading to innocent persons suffering harassment and damage to their reputations.7

In addition to the criminal sanctions applicable to the perpetrators of doxxing, victims of doxxing will be able to seek recourse under the Amended Act.

POFMA vs POHA: At a glance

Below is a table summarizing some of the key differences between POFMA and POHA.

Purpose Targeted at protecting the public interest from the negative impact of online falsehoods


Targeted at protecting subjects (both natural persons and non-government entities) from harm arising from online falsehoods


Initiating party Minister gives the Direction


Aggrieved parties must apply to court



Other changes to POHA

In addition to the above amendments, which are to combat fake news, the Amended Act also introduces several other changes.

Enhanced penalties for offences against certain persons

Section 8A of the Amended Act provides that penalties for POHA offences against vulnerable persons, be they adults or children, will be doubled.8 In addition, under section 8B of the Amended Act, where the victim is in an intimate relationship with the offender, enhanced penalties will apply.9

Protection from Harassment Courts

Under sections 16E-J of the Amended Act, Protection from Harassment Courts ("PHC") will be established to provide a one-stop solution that will facilitate the provision of holistic and effective interventions for victims.10 The PHC will be a specialist Court with oversight over all criminal and civil matters under the Amended Act, and will have simplified procedures with expedited timelines for certain types of applications and reliefs.11

Enhanced Protection for Victims of Harassment

Under sections 12 and 13 of the Amended Act, the protection order ("PO") and expedited protection order ("EPO") regimes will be enhanced. POs and EPOs will be extended to also cover persons related to the victim, and will remain in place until the PO hearing is concluded.12 Under section 18 of the Amended Act, where the harasser is reasonably suspected to have failed to comply with a PO or EPO, for instance by causing hurt or continuing the harassment to the victim, the police will be empowered to make an arrest without a warrant. Enhanced penalties will also apply for such subsequent breaches of POs and EPOs.13

This update is provided to you for general information and should not be relied upon as legal advice.



2 see "Explanatory Statement"



5 supra

6 supra



9 supra


11 supra

12 supra

13 supra

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions