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REPORT: Putin Signs Laws Allowing Russia To Detain Citizens Who Spread Fake News

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Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law Monday allowing Moscow to punish and potentially imprison citizens who spread misinformation on the internet about government officials.

Media publications found guilty of spreading “unreliable socially significant information” could potentially face $23,000 fines, Bloomberg reported. Prosecutors are now legally able to complain to Russia’s communications watchdog about online individuals — the country watchdog group has the ability to block access if outlets don’t remove the offensive content.

People can now be jailed for more than two weeks if they distribute material that contains “disrespect for society, the state, the official state symbols of the Russian Federation, the Constitution of the Russian Federation and bodies exercising state power.”

The announcement comes after a draft law called the Digital Economy National Program — which requires Russian internet service providers (ISPs) to make technical changes as the nation prepares for sanctions — was introduced to Russian parliament in  2018. The outage will take place before April 1, although an official date has yet to be released.

Putin has worked with American companies in the past on efforts to censor content.

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