Taiwan to introduce NT$1 million fine for fake news about food safety and epidemics

Maximum prison sentence of 3 years also possible

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Fake news about food safety and diseases will face higher fines and prison sentences.

Fake news about food safety and diseases will face higher fines and prison sentences. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Anyone found spreading rumors and false information about food safety and contagious diseases could face a fine of up to NT$1 million (US$31,700), according to a proposal approved by the Legislative Yuan Friday (May 24).

Since such rumors could influence public life and cause havoc, the Legislative passed a third reading also including the possibility of a prison sentence of up to three years if the false reports harmed the public, the Central News Agency reported.

In the case of contagious diseases, the health authorities could demand an immediate correction from media when they find erroneous information, and if the correction is not forthcoming, a fine from NT$100,000 to NT$1 million could be levied, according to the new legislation.

Around 2013, Taiwan was hit by several food safety scandals, amid accusations of adulteration of cooking oil with ingredients unsuitable for human consumption. More recently, there have also been signs that China is trying to influence local politics by spreading fake news.