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18 Sep, 2018 10:12

Russian Duma gives second nod to bill criminalizing the spreading of fake news

Russian Duma gives second nod to bill criminalizing the spreading of fake news

The Russian Lower House has passed, in the second and main reading, a bill criminalizing the persistent spreading of false or illegal reports in mass media with punishments varying from heavy fines to up to one year in custody.

The bill outlawing the spreading of fake news was drafted in May by several lawmakers from parliamentary majority party United Russia. The sponsors of the motion explained its necessity by the fact that the existing legal measures often prove to be ineffective against liars and slanderers – even when they get a court order to delete and refute false information they can easily ignore it and simply pay the relatively small fines (between 1000 and 5000 rubles or $14 to $74).

Lawmakers stated that, in their opinion, such a situation was a violation of basic constitutional guarantees of citizens’ personal rights. Once the new bill is passed into law the same offence would be prosecuted under criminal law.

The punishment for refusing to comply with a court order to stop spreading and/or to refute fake news or reports containing illegal information, would range from fines up to 50,000 rubles ($735) to one year correctional labor or even one year behind bars.

Persons who illegally prevent others from deleting or refuting fake news would face the same punishment.

In April, this year the same group of MPs presented a different legislative motion, for public discussion, which would allow state agencies to block messengers and social networks that refuse to delete fake news, and make citizens personally responsible for initiating or supporting the spreading of fake news and other false information. The bill has not yet received approval from the Lower House.

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