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Russia: Protection of Children from Harmful Information

(Jan. 4, 2011) On January 3, 2011, the President of the Russian Federation signed into law the Protection of Children from Negative and Harmful Information Act, which was passed by the Federal Assembly (the country's legislature) on December 24, 2010. According to a statement published on the President's website, “the law intends to avoid the creation of improper images and viewing by children, because with the current level of communications development, parents and children are not able to defend children from receiving information that might hurt their psychological health.” (Law Aimed at Protecting Children from Negative and Harmful Information Signed [in Russian], President of the Russian Federation website (Jan. 3, 2011), The Act introduces a ban “on information that might cause fear, anger, or panic; justify violence and unlawful behavior; or cause a desire to use drugs, alcohol, or otherwise harm one's health.” (Id.)

According to the Act, unified standards for books, computer programs, databases, mass media publications, and other audio and visual products must be established, and all such products will be reviewed by expert panels consisting of specialists in the field of child psychology, physiology, psychiatry, and pedagogy. The law divides minors and the information content to be made available to them into specific age groups of: under 6, 6 to12, 12 to16, and 16 years of age and older. The Act stipulates that a special age-focused rating system must also be established.

In addition, the new legislation prohibits, between the hours of 4 a.m. and 11 p.m. local time, the broadcast of programs deemed harmful to minors; obligates all public Internet access points to install content-blocking equipment as of September 1, 2012; and prescribes that materials with graphic content are to be sold in packaging that prevents viewing of the material by children. (Medvedev Protects Russian Children from Harmful Information [in Russian], NEWSRU.COM (Jan. 3, 2011),