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Russian Senate approves rules on fighting ‘fake news’ & other misinformation

Russian Senate approves rules on fighting ‘fake news’ & other misinformation
The upper chamber of the Russian parliament has approved two bills, which are meant to fight harmful misinformation and insulting publications online.

The two pieces of legislation, which earlier went in tandem through the lower chamber, give the Russian government the authority to seek removal or block certain content online. One deals with false information posing as genuine, as long as it poses a threat to health, public order or works of crucial infrastructure.

The General Prosecutor, or one of its deputies, will be able to demand removal of such content from the publisher. If the request is ignored, Russian telecom regulator RKN would be ordered to block public access to it.

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The bill also stipulates fines for deliberately publishing harmful misinformation measuring from as low as $460 to as much as $23,000 depending on who is fined and how much harm they managed to inflict.

The second bill, which sparked some controversy in Russia, authorizes a similar ‘cease and desist’ approach by the General Prosecutor’s Office to online insults directed at individuals, public morals or symbols of the state of Russia. Critics expressed concern that such a law could be abused to stifle legitimate criticism of officials in Russia. With the bill slated to be signed into law soon, Russians will be able to see over the coming months if such fears are justified.

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