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Should the traditional mass media be liable for fake news?

The traditional mass media in Russia – traditional television and radio stations and print issues – are totally under control of the state. Most of them have also strong support from the state budget. But if these media provide information for huge massive audience, should they be liable for mistakes, i.e. for so called fake news made by mistake, omission or by any other reason. In other words, if traditional mass media provides incorrect information should it be liable?

The Russian legislators believe the Russian law already provides liability for such fake news – the law on mass media. But the main means of control is the licensing for business activity – license to broadcast for radio or tv station, registration for print media, like newspaper. But why Russian legislators decided to draft new law against fake news and then exclude traditional media from the scope of this law? According to the words of draft law’s authors the law aims against dissemination of fake news in Russia in order to protect the Russian citizens against misinformation.

Following to the logic of legislators the Russian traditional mass media never lie. If the traditional mass media are excluded from the regulation of new law, it seems only online mass media and web-sites like blogging platforms and personal blogs are the target of proposed law. The text of the law provides strong instrument against fake news – restriction of access out of court simple at the requirement of prosecutor’s office. The publishers of online mass media disliked such approach. They claim new instrument can be misused in order to block access to authentic but unwanted by someone information.

Restriction of access could be misused by the managers, state officer or official persons, when they don’t want to bear personal responsibility for their actions or deeds. The stakeholders also pointed out that the law does not take into account the malicious intent in dissemination of fake news. Therefore it was proposed to include in the text of law “the right to mistake”. Such right is necessary, according to the expert from Russian state duma, in order to secure the freedom of speech and expression.

The websites, registered as mass media, should have 24 hours to delete (not to prove the authenticity of) information at issue from the web-site. Other web-sites, including personal, and blogs are to be blocked immediately after the discovering of fake news. In other words your web-site or personal profile can be blocked without notifying you of the reason.

The most interesting thing is that the mass media, who don’t receive funding from state budget, sometimes, accuse Russian state mass media of dissemination of fake news. In other words, the law provides competitive disadvantage in the benefit of state mass media. It seems someone desires go back to USSR. So read us and support while we can provide you with information.