Two Russian lawmakers from State Duma majority party United Russia have proposed a bill for the publishing of “false information” on social media to become a criminal offence, punishable by hefty fines.
If passed, the law would see individuals found to have violated the law face a fine of up to 5 million rubles ($83,000) and large corporations face a maximum penalty of 50 million rubles ($830,000), according to a report published yesterday by RBC. Referencing an explanatory note to the proposal, the news outlet cites the lawmakers’ claim that they had taken their lead from Germany, where the similar Network Enforcement Act was passed last month.
One of the law’s authors, Deputy Sergey Boyarsky, took to Twitter to assure critics that the law would target social media companies rather than individual users, stating that it would be “up to the organisers of information dissemination to delete illegal information”.
Popular Russian social media companies Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki have decried the bill, asserting that users are already able to flag up false content.
“The proposed measures are completely redundant and are impossible to implement,” Yevgeny Krasnikov, a spokesperson for VKontakte, a social media site often dubbed the Russian Facebook, told RBC.
Critics of the bill view such proposals as forming part of a broad government crackdown on internet freedom in Russia. In 2016, Russia passed the controversial Yarovaya law, a package of legal amendments intended to combat terrorism that limited internet privacy and tightened government control over the internet.
Source: The Moscow Times