Sanctions for unauthorized collection of information, establishing illegal informational structures, and creating fake profiles on social networks are included in the draft amendment to the Criminal Code and the Contravention Code. The document was drafted by the Ministry of Justice (MJ) and has been recently submitted to the Government.
The draft law contains a series of amendments developed in order to “improve the regulatory framework, eliminating some legislative deficiencies which generate practical difficulties in interpreting and applying criminal law provisions, and consolidating an efficient system of humanizing the state’s punitive policy adapted to social requirements and realities.”
A number of suggested amendments to the Criminal Code are aimed at countering illegal activities in the sphere of information. The document provides the notion of an illegal informational structure which implies “any structure created outside the constitutional and legal regulations of the state for collecting and processing information containing state secrets or other information which could be used for committing actions to the detriment of sovereignty, independence, territorial inviolability, state security, or defense capacity of the Republic of Moldova, and for the purpose of recruiting people in order to provide support in such activities.”
It also provides for the sanctions for unauthorized collection of information. If a person collects or steals data “for storing or using it to the detriment of sovereignty, independence, territorial inviolability, state security, or defense capacity of the Republic of Moldova, unless the action constitutes treason or espionage,” fines from 42 500 lei to 67 500 lei or two to five years of imprisonment are suggested. Harsher penalties are stipulated for cases where these actions are committed by a person who has access to such information in connection with their service or work.
In addition, the document provides for punishments for fake identity on social networks, except using pseudonyms – from 25 000 lei to 150 000 lei or imprisonment from half a year to a year. In both cases, the sanction includes deprivation of the right to hold certain positions or to exercise certain activities for a period of up to five years.
ARGUMENTS OF THE AUTHORITIES
The informative note to the project says that, following the analysis of the legislative framework implementation practice, it was concluded that there was a number of issues regarding the application of legislative regulations related to ensuring state security.
Another argument is countering informational subversive activities of representatives of unconstitutional entities which cannot be qualified as a “foreign state” in the sense of the provisions of the current legislation. “At the current stage, the so-called ‘MSS of the PMR’ [the security department in Tiraspol – editor’s note] represents a centralized structure which is thoroughly organized in its operational, support, and special intervention subdivisions, territorial and subordinate authorities, which practices illegal informational and counter-intelligence activities both in its own interest and that of another state,” the informative note to the project reads.
“Since fakes and identity theft constitute an alteration of the truth which can have serious consequences, because an important set of social relationships is based on people’s identities, we consider it reasonable to introduce these modifications,” the document also says on the suggestions related to sanctions for cloning profiles on social networks. Previously, a number of media institutions from the Republic of Moldova complained about the clones of their own websites which published the content different from the one they originally shared, including ZdG.md, Deschide.md, and Jurnal.md. Their complaints to the relevant authorities failed to produce any meaningful results.