Is there any country in the world that restricts the use of false information in (at-least publicly funded) political campaigns?

I'm not really thinking of countries where the dominant party bans bad publicity (like Russia). Try to stick with countries categorized as "Full democracy" or "Flawed Democracy" on this list.

How do they set-up a stable system in place to stop misinformation? How do they assure that it's judged from a neutral perspective, so that the system never gets corrupted?

I'm wondering about this because here in British Columbia we just had a referendum. There were two opposing campaigns which received equal public funding. For one of the campaigns, there were many outright lies, and most of it is misleading to the point that it's basically lying.

  • 6
    Asking "which democratic country has a ministry of truth?" might be easier ;)
    – janh
    Dec 16, 2018 at 8:42
  • 4
    "most of it is misleading to the point that it's basically lying." I mean, you've only asked a question about it and you've already suggested that they decide which true statements are "basically lying" and thus can't be said. There's a reason democracies won't touch this idea with a 10-foot pole. Dec 16, 2018 at 20:08
  • 2
    In the US you can sue for libel in these cases, but its a challenging case to win and by the time the case goes through the politics have already happened. In other words, politicians in the US lie unabashedly not because its not illegal, but because the costs of calling them on their lies are usually greater than the benefits reaped.
    – Gramatik
    Dec 17, 2018 at 19:57
  • Also, "political campaigns" is poorly-defined: a recent editorial in the Wall St. Journal suggested that campaign-finance laws applied liberally could require candidates to acknowledge the value of friendly media blasts by major news outlets in their campaign spending cap... how would the regulator honestly know the difference? Dec 18, 2018 at 17:23

2 Answers 2


The UK has a very weak and seldom-applied law. Section 106 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 says:

A person who, or any director of any body or association corporate which—

(a)before or during an election,

(b)for the purpose of affecting the return of any candidate at the election,

makes or publishes any false statement of fact in relation to the candidate’s personal character or conduct shall be guilty of an illegal practice, unless he can show that he had reasonable grounds for believing, and did believe, that statement to be true.

In practice this is very seldom applied. Labour politician Phil Woolas lost his seat in 2010 over false claims that a rival candidate supported political violence, but the other recent case was in 2015 when Alistair Carmichael was cleared despite making a false statement that he had not leaked a document. The cases show it only applies if you comment upon someone's character, not their politics.


In Indonesia, there is anti hoax legal system.

However, there are plenty of loopholes.

For example, Bob cannot say publicly a lie. However, Bob can lie to Cindy that are profited by the lie and do not really care whether the statement is true or not. Cindy can lie publicly. So technically no body "lies" to public.

In one case, Ratna Sarumpaet told a lie that she is beaten up to Prabowo. Prabowo then repeated the lie. Neither can be charged (I am not sure, the case is still proceeding).

There are phrases like know or "should have known". That is open to a lot of interpretation.

Most people understand that any info that is "false" is a crime. However, I have no idea if the laws really work that way.

For reference


Here, deliberately spreading hoax is criminalized. However, it's not clear whether a person need to deliberately spread hoax, or deliberately spreading something, that happens to be hoax. Need to ask in stackexchange.

In case of Ahok, he is charged for deliberately speaking something that are hostile to religious sentiment. Here, the judge interprets deliberately to cover only "speaking". Of course, every body speak deliberately without knowing what he said offend any religious sentiment or not.


This is a case where Prabowo spread hoaxes by saying that Ratna was beaten up. However, Ratna wasn't beaten up by anyone.

Latter, this same Prabowo said that a demonstration demanding Ahok's fall is done by 11 million. CNN says there are only 80k people.

https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20181202034943-20-350444/massa-reuni-aksi-212-diprediksi-capai-15-ribu-orang (cnn estimate 15 k and I've heart it report 88k latter)

Prabowo also said that 1% of Indonesian control 40% of the wealth by saying that's what .40 GINI index is. That's clearly false information.

However, that guy is not convicted.

I guess you get to ask someone in laws to understand why.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .