Denmark criminalises social media impersonation of others

It is now against the law in Denmark to create a social media profile which looks like it belongs to another person.

Illustration photo of social media
Illustration photo. Denmark has made it illegal to impersonate another person using a social media profile. Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

A large majority in the country’s parliament passed the new law on Thursday, the Ministry of Justice said in a statement.

“It is a breach of personal boundaries and deeply unpleasant to have one’s identity misused on social media. We as a society must not accept this type of behaviour and we must give better protection to victims,” Justice Minister Nick Hækkerup said in the statement.

“That’s why I’m very satisfied that a broad majority in parliament has today voted to criminalise misuse of identity online, so the law keeps up with the times and clearly underlines the seriousness of the crime,” he said.

The issue of online impersonation has become more prominent in Denmark in recent months. That is in no small part due to coverage of the issue by national broadcaster DR, which told victims’ stories and confronted online impersonators in documentary programmes including 100 falske forelskelser (roughly, ‘100 Fake Infatuations’) and Den falske caster (‘The Fake Casting Agent’).

Under current law, it is not illegal to create a profile on social media which impersonates another person unless there is criminal intent. That changes under the new law, which takes effect on April 1st.

It will also be illegal to use another person’s picture or video of them with the intention of manipulating their actions in an “unreasonable manner” under to the new law.

Conviction under the law can result in a fine or prison sentence up to six months.

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Denmark police receive 456 reports of fraud from the corona relief fund

The National Unit for Special Crime has received 456 reports of fraud from the corona relief packages since 1st April 2020, according to a press release from the Money Laundering Secretariat (Hvidvasksekretariatet).

Denmark police receive 456 reports of fraud from the corona relief fund

The frauds and attempted frauds amount to 212 million kroner, although some of the scams were discovered before the fraudsters got the money. More than 28 million kroner has been recovered through 102 recovery operations.

According to Jørgen Andersen, deputy police inspector and head of the Money Laundering Secretariat, the task has been taken “very seriously” in the secretariat since the introduction of corona relief packages.

“And it has had a high priority with us as authorities. But also with the notifiers – here primarily banks and the accountants – and we sat down together quite quickly in a community.

“Here, we organised the effort in such a way that when banks and auditors sent notifications to us where there was a suspicion of misuse of schemes, we typically sent them within 24 hours to the authorities who paid money on these schemes”, Andersen says.

Companies or individuals should contact the Money Laundering Secretariat (Hvidvasksekretariatet) if they suspect money laundering or terrorist financing.

In October 2020, an eight-billion kroner stimulus package was agreed in parliament to help Danish businesses and cultural institutions hit by the coronavirus crisis.

The financial package also included a liquidity fund totalling 28 million kroner. 

READ ALSO: Denmark announces new coronavirus relief for businesses and culture