Regarding the relevant criminal provisions, laws and measures related to scaremongering, which were made stricter by the National Assembly as of 31 March, there is now more of a focus on public nuisance and specifically, fake news. The state of danger induced by the epidemic has directly affected this.
Germany and the United States also have a legal background with scaremongering. In both countries, a fine and/or between 5 to 20 years imprisonment can be imposed, depending on the severity of the case.
A wider range of countries has provisions for public nuisance. Austria, Belgium, the UK, France, Germany, Romania, Sweden and the United States impose a fine and/or several years of imprisonment for intentional, false allegations for disturbing public peace, or for creating the illusion that there is a threat of an event involving public nuisance.
In the context of epidemic management and special legal orders, legislation and measures specifically aimed at curbing fake news are a relevant category. The law adopted by the French Parliament in 2018 to combat information manipulation was one of the first in Western Europe to officially punish (by imposing one-year imprisonment and a fine of EUR 75,000) the publishing of fake news three months before the elections. Although Germany has no criminal framework for this matter, the person spreading fake news is obliged to delete the post, publish an official rebuttal and stop the unlawful activity, and, in addition, civil sanctions can be imposed to act against fake news contents in the online media in the event of a breach of privacy. In Sweden, the media ombudsman is responsible for investigating social media, on individual request or ex officio, for possible breaches of "good publishing practice", including the accuracy of the published information; and if a problem is identified, it should be reported to the Swedish Press Council, which can fine the publishers acting in bad faith. In an epidemic situation, the British Rapid Response Unit and the Romanian National Communication Management and Regulators Authority are authorised to filter the coronavirus-related fake news in the media and online, and to take measures to ensure that the public is informed in an appropriate and objective manner.
Based on all of this, it can be said that many European countries have a criminal framework related to false allegations and have recently introduced additional regulations and measures in this regard, specifically in the context of the coronavirus epidemic. Consequently, it can be clearly stated that, in terms of fake news, Hungary's law on the defence against the coronavirus is not unprecedented in the international arena either.