St. Petersburg legislator suggests fining fake social network account holders
Notorious anti-gay politician Vitaly Milonov has prepared a bill introducing fines up to 5 million rubles (US$151,000) for creating fake accounts on the internet, and even for those who urge such actions.
The initiative is tied in with the Federal Code of Administrative Violations and reads that people who create accounts on social networks using a fake identity should be punished by fines. The amount of these fines vary from 5,000 to 10,000 rubles for private persons ($150 -$300), up to 50,000 rubles ($1,500) for those who occupy official posts, and up to 5 million rubles (about $151,000) for companies.
“Today not only common bombs but also information bombs are being used in acts of terrorism. All sorts of information are spread through fake accounts and if there are no direct calls for violence the perpetrators are considered just scamps and troublemakers,” Milonov said as he presented the document for discussion.
The legislator gave some recent examples of such behavior, saying that at the recent mayoral elections in Moscow, one candidate’s supporters registered fake accounts for various officials and began spreading information about Chechen paramilitary units deployed in the city and about introducing new laws abolishing all benefits in healthcare and education.
The bill immediately faced problems as it turned out that Russian law had no definition for identifying an account’s owner. Milonov explained that he wants social networks to require registration with confirmation of the user’s identity.
“We are talking about the access to social networks’ resources, not about registration to get internet access,” he noted.
In August last year Milonov already suggested to introduce responsibility for spreading fake reports on the internet, but then his move came to naught.
Milonov is well-known in Russia and abroad as the author of the St. Petersburg regional law that bans the promotion of homosexuality to minors. After the bill was introduced in Russia’s second-largest city (and a number of other regions), the federal parliament voted for a similar nationwide ban, causing a wave of protests in Russia and abroad that continue to this day.
The scandals with fake accounts are not frequent in Russia, but still they take place several times a year. One of the latest stories was a report about the death of ex-Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, distributed via the fake Twitter account of the German Foreign Minister.
The mass media picked up the news, but it soon appeared that the report was a completely fraud and the Twitter account had been created by an Italian journalist.