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Borodyansky’s misinformation bill to provide for fines, correctional labor and imprisonment

17.01.2020, 17:12
Photo credit: Screenshot taken from presentation of the bill, by the Ministry of culture, youth and sports
Photo credit: Screenshot taken from presentation of the bill, by the Ministry of culture, youth and sports

The misinformation bill, worked out by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, proposed criminal liability for the systematic and deliberate dissemination of misinformation, as well as an administrative liability for dissemination of misinformation, breach of retraction rules, right of reply and transparency. Such is the main idea of the bill aiming to counter misinformation they presented on January 17, as the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports reported.

The provisions on criminal liability provides for:

  1. Systematic deliberate dissemination of deliberately untrue reportsof facts, events or phenomena that threaten national security, public security, territorial integrity, sovereignty, defense capacity of Ukraine, the right of people of Ukraine to self-identification, life and health of citizens, environment in time of lack of complete control by Ukraine over the state border is punishable by a fine of from 5 to 10 thousand of tax-free minimum incomes of citizens or corrective labor from one to two years. (Penalty of correctional labor is set for a term of six months to two years and occurs at the place of work of the convicted person. Under terms of  correctional labor, from 10 to 20% is deducted from the earnings of sentenced person and sent to the state, as it is set by curt decision.
  1. The deeds, as it is provided for in Part 1st, which are performed by means of computer programs and are intended for the automatic dissemination of information (bots),or a specially organized system (group) of accounts, or users of information services, or means of intentionally falsifying (falsifying) information sources, shall be punishable by imprisonment for a term of two to five years;
  2. Financing of the actions which are provided for in the first or second paragraph of this Articleentails imprisonment for a term of three to five years.
  3. The actions which are provided for in the paragraphs 1st -3rd of this Article, committed repeatedly or by an organized group of persons, or if they have caused some grave consequencesor caused important material damage entail an imprisonment for a term of five to seven years, with deprivation of the right to occupy certain positions or be engaged in some activity.  

As it is said in the notices, mass dissemination of information or dissemination through the tools of dissemination of mass information is its diffusing through the mass media or by other means giving an access for an unlimited or indefinite number of persons or with an option to get access for any person from any place and in any place and anytime, including with the consent or permission of the appropriate disseminator of mass information. They consider it as systematic, if it is committed more than three times in one year.

Fines for the dissemination of misinformation are imposed exclusively by judges, under condition upholding complaint from the commissioner for information.

An administrative responsibility provides for:

  • dissemination of misinformation under condition of voluntary retractionin accordance with the procedure established by this law, beginning with the third fact of the violation within one year entails a fine of 1000 minimum wages for each violation;
  • dissemination of misinformation while there is no voluntary retraction, in compliance with the procedure, as it is prescribed by this law entails a fine of 2000 minimum wages for each dissemination of misinformation;
  • failure to publish or untimely publishing of a replyto misinformation at the request of the Commissioner entails a fine of 20 minimum wages for each violation;
  • placing an index of confidence in a media entity while there is no report on the index on the authorized person's website entails a fine of 20 minimum salaries;
  • change of the address of placement of the content, for which the authorized person filed a complaint, or failure to keep a record or a copy of the material entails a fine of five minimum salaries for each case of violation;
  • failure to reply to complaint or request for information from an authorized person within the period specified by this law entails a fine of five minimum salaries for each case of violation.

Exemption from liability:

  • agent of dissemination of mass information who disseminates some report he received from some official sources (information of public authorities, local self-government bodies, reports, transcripts, etc.), is not obliged to check its authenticity and is not responsible if it is refuted;
  • agent of dissemination of mass information who disseminates some mass information he received from official sources is obliged to place a reference to the source.

According to the bill, untruthful information is any false report about persons, facts, events and phenomena that did not happen at all or that happened, but the report obout it is incomplete or distorted. Misinformation is unreliable information on issues of public interest, including national security, territorial integrity, sovereignty, defense of Ukraine, the right of the Ukrainian people to self-identification, life and health of citizens, and the state of the environment.

At the same time, evaluative judgments, particularly critical ones, satire and parody, unfair advertising are not considered as misinformation.

The presentation of the misinformation bill is available here .

The ministry is going to submit this bill for public discussion in February, for further submission for consideration by the Verkhovna Rada in March.

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