A person who produces and disseminates fake news with the intention of deceiving in Costa Rica would be exposed to between one and four years in prison.

That is the proposal (legislative file 21.187) by Partido Unidad Social Cristiana (PUSC) legislator Erwen Masis, in the bill to combat cybercrime.

The bill was presented by PUSC legislator Erwen Masis and supported by experts in cybernetics

Masis said that his proposal does not seek to limit freedom of expression, but the establishment of a legal order for this type of situation.

Adalith Medrano, a lawyer specializing in computer crimes who assisted in drafting the proposal, said that this does not involve the people who disseminate this type of news or parodies because there is no fraud intended and or ignorance that it is false information.

The lawyer said there is a difference made between fake news and parody.

As an example of parody, sites include The OnionThe Babylon Bee, and the Q’s own Fughesi. On Facebook, El Pejibaye pokes fun at Costa Rica.

According to the proposed bill, the definition of spreading false news then is the following: “the use of false profiles, Facebook pages, and websites specialized in spreading false news in order to manipulate the electorate is a worldwide trend and should be sanctioned criminally if this act is carried out in order to manipulate the decision of citizens with the use of flagrantly false facts.”

Other crimes

The proposal includes other crimes that could mean a prison term.

  • Computer fraud, from two to six years.
  • Spoofing of electronic pages, the penalty would be one to three years.
  • Cybernetic harassment, would be sanction from six months to three years. This includes harassment of one of more people through the sending of messages or publications by electronic means, dissemination of images, audio or video of a sexual or pornographic nature where the victim appears and/or participates in.
  • The manufacture, production or reproduction of child pornography, would mean four to eight years in prison.
  • Possession of child pornographic material would be sanctioned with one to four years.
  • Illicit purchases with plastic, two to five years to those who acquire goods or services through the use of a credit or debit card not issued in their favor.

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