California bill aimed at preventing COVID-19 disinformation heads to governor

The California Senate passed a bill Aug. 25 that would allow regulators to punish physicians for spreading misinformation or disinformation related to COVID-19.

If Gov. Gavin Newsom signs the bill into law, California would be the first state to attempt a legal remedy for dissemination of false information about COVID-19 vaccinations and treatments, according to The New York Times.

Existing state law allows the Medical Board of California and the Osteopathic Medical Board of California to punish any licensed physician and surgeon for "unprofessional conduct." Under the new law, such conduct would include dissemination of misinformation or disinformation related to COVID-19. Punishment could include suspending or revoking a physician's California license, The New York Times reported.

The bill was introduced in February and passed the state Assembly in May.

It defines disinformation as "misinformation that the licensee deliberately disseminated with malicious intent or an intent to mislead." It defines misinformation as "false information that is contradicted by contemporary scientific consensus contrary to the standard of care."

Mr. Newsom has until Sept. 30 to act, according to his office.

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