by Aaron Kesel
The infamous moniker "fake news" has been pushed since the 2016
election started by the current sitting U.S. President
Lawmakers all over the world are now seeking to trample on human
rights in a bid to stop "fake news."
Russia is the latest to propose draconian legislation to stop the
spreading of "fake news."
Russia has proposed the notion of
companies. Under the new legislation, websites would be responsible
for deleting inaccurate user comments, The New York Times
If passed in Russian parliament, the new law would require websites
with more than 100,000 daily visitors and a comment feature to
remove inaccurate information posted by users within 24 hours of the
If websites fail to comply, the sites could face a fine of up
to 50 million rubles or ($793,000).
Artem Kozlyuk, the founder of anti-censorship site
Roskomsvoboda, told The New York Times that although the bill
is being packaged as a way to boost public safety and stem harmful
misinformation, these types of efforts typically end the same way,
"expansion of the
government's powers and censorship..."
Earlier this year, the
Russian telecom regulator announced it was preparing a draft decree
designed purely and simply to
block all content that contains false
Since July 2016, content aggregators have been required to verify
the veracity of reports that they publish if they do not come from
media outlets registered in Russia.
The Russian Foreign
has posted a new section on its official website dedicated
to debunking fake anti-Russian news stories published by
international news outlets.
Earlier this year,
Malaysia passed a law that criminalized the
spread of fake news that allows for a prison time of up to six years
parliament recently approved legislation that will treat
popular social media accounts and blogs as traditional media
outlets putting more pressure on citizens
In the U.S.
last month, the state of California proposed a bill to
consider creating a "fake news" advisory group in order to
monitor information posted and spread on social media.
Senate Bill 1424 would require the California Attorney General to
create an advisory committee by April 1st, 2019.
Further, the council
would need to consist of at least one person from the Department of
Justice, representatives from social media providers, civil
liberties advocates, and First Amendment scholars.
The advisory group would be required to study how false information
is spread online and come up with a plan for social media platforms
to fix the problem.
The Attorney General would then need to present
that plan to the Legislature by December 31st, 2019.
The group would also need
to come up with criteria establishing what is "fake news" and what
is just biased information.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) opposes the bill, calling it
"flawed" and "misguided." The group argues the measure would make
the government and advisory group responsible for deciding what is
true or false.
It also points out the
First Amendment prevents content-based restrictions, even if the
statements are "admittedly false."
In recent years
(increasingly at a rapid rate in the last few months especially), we
have seen a visible crackdown on freedom of speech in a number of
countries seeking to silence political opinion and news including,
(There still may be other countries missed at the time of this
report, or further countries to add at a later time.)
Article 19, an
organization formed in 1987 to defend free speech, stated in an
"a number of countries around the world prohibit the
dissemination of false information, even if it is not defamatory in
It adds, however, that these laws against fake news are,
"rare in the more established democracies and have been ruled
unconstitutional in some."
The U.N. Human Rights Council has,
"reiterated that false news
provisions 'unduly limit the exercise of freedom of opinion and
expression," notes Article 19.
The United Nations council has upheld this even in cases of news that may
cause public unrest, on grounds that,
"in all such cases,
imprisonment as punishment for the peaceful expression of an opinion
constitutes a serious violation of human rights."
many other alternative news websites were included in an egregious
list that labeled the alternative media "fake news" and
propaganda following the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
certain provisions within the
2017 National Defense
Authorization Act that enabled a move to criminalize 'fake news,
propaganda' on the Web; it was covertly signed into law by former
It's fact that Snopes wasn't
too happy with and disputed, personally
attacking this reporter when I worked at We Are Change,
failing to realize the story came from a sitting U.S. congressman.
Last year, a House
of Representatives resolution H.RES.
191 by Democrats called for,
"opposing fake news and alternative
No matter what
country you live in, or what your personal political beliefs are, as
citizens we should all collectively agree that allowing our
governments to tell us what is and isn't propaganda or "fake news"
It's just one step closer to
1984, where a Ministry Of Truth is established like the one proposed in California.