The MPs Propose to Introduce Liability for the Deliberate or Accidental Dissemination of False Information in the Media and on the Internet

Human rights and media organisations call to revoke the draft law # 10139 on criminal liability for the deliberate or accidental dissemination of false information in the media and on the Internet. The draft law was registered on March 12 by Narodnyi Front’s MP Ihor Lapin.

The draft law proposes to criminalize the dissemination of false information in the media and on the Internet. Responsibility is expected to come irrespective of whether the media deliberately disseminate false information or made an unintentional mistake.

Separately, the draft law is to govern the peculiarities of protecting the reputation of candidates at the elections. For example, if during the consideration of an electoral dispute a court identifies a repeated or an one-time gross violation of the prohibition to disseminate false (not necessarily knowingly) information in the media or on the Internet, the court shall decide on the temporary (until the end of the election process) suspension of the license and/or on the prohibition (until the end of the election process) of production of a printed outlet or the obligation of the operator/telecommunications provider to suspend access of subscribers to the respective website.

Legislative initiatives like this can serve as a dangerous tool for censorship and pressure on independent media. Even the threat of being prosecuted prevents them from disseminating socially important information, since any investigation of abuse or corruption will entail the risk of being prosecuted for a crime.

Also, blocking of information resources, especially during elections, will be contrary to the right of citizens to receive and impart information of public interest and serve as a tool for censoring political debate.

Click here for a more detailed analysis of the draft law 10139 (in Ukrainian).

Considering serious threats to freedom of expression and online media freedom associated with the draft law # 10139, human rights and media organizations call:

  • the initiator of the draft law MP Ihor Lapin — to revoke the draft Law “On Amending Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine on Preventing the Dissemination of False Data in the Mass Media” # 10139;
  • Members of Parliament of Ukraine — do not vote for the inclusion of the draft law # 10139 into the agenda of the session of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.

Signatory organizations

Members of FreeNet Coalition:

NGO Human Rights Platform

NGO Digital Security Lab Ukraine

NGO Human Rights Centre ZMINA

NGO Crimean Human Rights Group

NGO Centre for Civil Liberties

Freedom House in Ukraine

Mykola Kostynyan

And:

NGO Regional Press Development Institute

NGO Institute of Mass Information

NGO Hromadske TV

NGO Detector Media

NGO Donetsk Institute of Information

NGO Centre for Democracy and Rule of Law

NGO Ukrainian Media and Communication Institute

NGO Resource Center GURT

National Union of Journalists of Ukraine

NGO European Media Platform

NGO Institute of Partnership and Sustainable Development

NGO Information Security