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Supreme Court changed the rules of dealing with “likes” and “reposts” cases

20 September 2018
Supreme Court changed the rules of dealing with “likes” and “reposts” cases

On September 20, Plenum of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation adopted a resolution supplementing the rules for the consideration of cases related to likes and reposts in social networks.

The Supreme Court explained that the initiation of criminal cases on the placement of extremist materials in the Internet is possible only with the determination of intent to foster hatred or ill will.

"The Criminal Code of Russia does not provide for the prosecution of reposts, only of the incitement of hatred. Even in case the material is extremist, and a person has copied it to his page, it does not mean anything. It is necessary to prove the intent," judge of the Supreme Court Vladimir Davydov said.

High Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation Tatiana Moskalkova has repeatedly noted that she supports the initiative to decriminalize articles of the Criminal Code that provide for criminal sanctions for reposts and likes in social networks. According to the High Commissioner, having reposted information, a person often can not fully assess its social danger and determine if it may cause ominous effects.

"I stand against criminal prosecution for reposts," the ombudswoman said, responding to questions from young human rights activists at the Russian Educational Youth Forum «Terra Scientia on Klyazma River». "From the legal point of view, it is very important to ascertain malice. The created content can be harmful to society, a particular person or the state. <…> But when a person does not understand that he has reposted a harmful „fake“, he is innocent as far as he had no any malicious intent, unlike the author, who knew for sure that he wanted to sow panic or commit acts that destabilize society".

An example of dissemination of such false information is the distribution of «fake» news about the tragedy in the city of Kemerovo, which happened on March 25 in the shopping center «Zimnyaya Vishnya». News about hundreds of people killed in the fire and inaction of law enforcement agencies was spread in the Internet. However, this information was not supported by any evidence. In addition, scammers speculating on the tragedy, published sham bank accounts data for people to transfer money to help the victims.

In the opinion of Tatiana Moskalkova, the creation and deliberate dissemination of unreliable information aimed at destabilizing the society and calling people for participation in unauthorized rallies should be barred and prosecuted. But bringing people to criminal responsibility for «unmalicious» likes and reposts is a disproportionately strict measure of restraint.

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