Internet regulation bill approved by Russian Parliament

Friday, May 2, 2014

Vladimir Putin - 2006

The Russian Parliament passed a new bill on Tuesday to restrict and regulate blogging and social media content, expected to be enforced in August. The bill comes following Russian actions in Ukraine and a Russian crackdown on domestic criticism.

Under the bill, bloggers with 3000 or more daily views will face a similar level of legal liability as media organisations. These bloggers will be required to register their identities with Russia's consumer rights protection agency, Rospotrebnadzor; they may not spread extremist material or violate citizen privacy, and must undertake fact-checking to verify published content. Non-compliance risks content blocking and individual fines of 10,000–30,000 rubles (US$270–US$833), business fines of 50,000–300,000 rubles (US$1400–US$8300).

Social networking sites, blog hosts, and other "distributors of information on the internet" will also be required register with Rospotrebnadzor, and will be expected to store the data of popular users, and provide up to six months of user activity logs on request for possible use in government investigations. Non-compliance will net fines for private citizens of 3,000–5,000 rubles (US$83–US$140), officials 30,000–50,000 rubles (US$833–US$1,388), and businesses 300,000–500,000 rubles (US$8,330–US$13,888).

The bill has drawn criticism from human rights activists and the Russian technology sector, with some search engines and blogging platforms taking steps to protect users and circumvent the new regulations.