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Russia: Monitoring for Prohibited Web Content

(Nov. 6, 2012) On November 1, 2012, amendments to the Russian Law on Protection of Children from Information Damaging Their Health and Development entered into force. These amendments were passed by the Russian legislature in July 2012. (Federal Law of the Russian Federation No. 139, ROSSIISKAIA GAZETA (July 30, 2012) [official publication, in Russian].)

According to these amendments, a nationwide registry of websites containing information whose dissemination is prohibited was established and started to operate. The Registry of banned websites can be found at the government-designated website (last visited Nov. 2, 2012).

At present, according to the government-issued implementation regulation, the Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecommunications, Information Technologies, and Mass Communications is appointed to manage the Registry. The Service is required to monitor the web content, respond to web content-related complaints from individuals, create lists of banned websites, and block access to banned Internet resources. In searching for prohibited information, the Service will rely on other government agencies, including the Federal Drug Control Service and the Consumer Protection Agency. Later, this duty will be delegated to a selected noncommercial organization. (Regulation No. 1101 (Oct. 26, 2012) [in Russian], Government of the Russian Federation website.)

The new Law imposes the responsibility on Internet providers, telecom operators, website owners, and web hosting companies to remove any information related to child pornography or to the involvement of children in pornographic acts, to the use and production of drugs and precursor chemicals, and to suicide or ways to commit suicide. If such content is found, the monitoring agency will inform the web hosting or Internet provider company of the violation and order the removal of the information in question within 24 hours. If this information is not removed, the website will be banned and included in the Registry, and its IP address will be blocked. A decision to include a website in the Registry can be appealed to a court within a three-month period. (Federal Law No. 139, art. 3.6)

Additionally, the Law states that Internet sites will contain information on recommended age restrictions for viewers and requires limits on access to prohibited information in public places where children can access the Internet (Id. art. 1 (7)).