1-yr jail, fine for spreading fake news on COVID: Telangana Govt

Hyderabad: The Telangana government said that it would take strict action against those spreading false information about COVID-19 which could create panic.

“As the coronavirus has spread at an alarming pace, very limited information is available from competent authorities and agencies. This has led people to spread fake news, misinformation and rumours – some out of sheer ignorance and others with mischievous and malafide intentions,” the state government said.

“Ironically, spreading of fake news, misinformation and rumours have become another pandemic posing a great challenge for the Governments so much so that the World Health Organisation (WHO) calling the phenomenon an Infodemic,” the statement by Dileep Konatham, Director, Digital Media, IT Electronics & Communications (ITE&C) Department added.

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The State Government has asked citizens to be responsible while sharing such information. “Admins of Digital Media platforms like WhatsApp will be held responsible and will be tried as per the law if any of the member(s) of the group indulges in publicising fake news/ misinformation/ rumours.”

“Forwarding misinformation is not only unethical but also illegal, “ the State Government said.

“Spreading fake news, misinformation or rumours in times of national disasters may attract imprisonment up to one year along with a fine under relevant sections of the Disaster Management Act, 2005. Such acts of spreading fake news is also a punishable offence under Section 505 of Indian Penal Code under the ground that they will cause fear or alarm to the public,” the statement said.

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The Telangana government invoked the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 which states that people indulging in spreading unauthenticated information will be booked under various provisions of the law.

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