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In Russia the right to be forgotten was formally recognized in 2016. It allows an individual to request that a search engine operator remove links to information that is incorrect or outdated. In addition, civil and criminal laws protect the rights to privacy and to one’s image; these rights can be used as the basis for removal from the internet of information about a person’s private life.

I.     Privacy Laws

The right to privacy is incorporated in articles 23 and 24 of the Russian Constitution.[1] Article 137 of the Criminal Code, entitled “Invasion of Personal Privacy,” provides for a monetary fine of up to 200,000 rubles (approximately US$3,380) and up to two years of deprivation of liberty for the illegal collection or spreading of information about the private life of a person, without his/her consent, where the information concerns personal or family secrets.[2] This article has been used in Russia to prosecute revenge pornography cases.[3]

Article 152-1 of the Civil Code[4] protects the image of an individual. Publication and further use of an individual’s image, including photos and video recordings, are allowed only with the consent of the citizen. Such consent is not required if the image is used in the public interest or was obtained in a public area, or the individual posed for a fee. If the individual’s image is disseminated on the internet he/she can demand the removal of the image as well as a prohibition on its further distribution.[5]

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II. Right to Be Forgotten

A. Scope of the Law

The right to be forgotten was introduced in Russia on July 1, 2016, after amendments[6] to the Law on Information, Information Technologies and Protection of Information[7] came into effect. Russia had earlier passed a law in 2015 that allowed government agencies to shut down websites that violated the requirements of the Law on Personal Data.[8] The same law required that all data on Russian citizens be stored on servers located in the territory of Russia. The 2016 law on the right to be forgotten is generally consistent with the European Union (EU) regulations on this issue. However, unlike the EU regulations, the right to be forgotten in Russia is not based on legislation on the protection of personal data.[9]

The law requires search engine operators to remove from search results information that was illegally obtained, or is inaccurate or irrelevant (outdated), at the request of the applicant. Information is deemed irrelevant if it has lost its significance to the applicant because of subsequent events or actions taken by the applicant; it must be removed irrespective of whether or not it damages the reputation of the applicant.[10] An applicant cannot request the removal of information concerning events that point to the commission of criminally punishable acts where the corresponding terms for criminal prosecution have not expired, and likewise cannot seek removal of information about the commission of a crime for which the conviction has not been canceled or expunged.[11]  After the operator’s intervention the challenged information will still remain on the website, but the search engine will not show links to it.[12]

The law only applies to search engine operators who link to third-party websites. Thus, the law does not apply to social media websites or other websites with internal search engines. Moreover, the law applies only to search engines that distribute advertising aimed at attracting the attention of consumers located in Russia. Search engines operated by the government and municipalities are exempt from the scope of the law.[13]

B. Procedures and Practice

The application to remove information must be filed in person and must contain the following information:

  • The applicant’s last name, first name, patronymic, passport details, and contact information (telephone and/or fax number, email address, postal address)
  • Information about the links that are the subject of the termination request
  • The index of the webpage on which the information is posted
  • The basis for terminating the links
  • The applicant’s consent to the processing of his/her personal data[14]

A search engine operator may ask the applicant to provide an identity document or additional explanations if the application is incomplete or inaccurate. Within ten business days from receipt of the application or additional explanation the search engine operator must either cease issuing links to the information in question containing the name of the applicant, or send a reasoned refusal to the applicant. The operator must not disclose information about the existence of the application.

Under the Code of Civil Procedure an applicant whose request for removal is refused may file a claim in court at his/her place of residence.[15] The maximum penalty for a search engine operator’s failure to comply with the law is one million rubles (approximately US$16,900).[16] 

According to data provided by search engine operator Yandex, only 27% of around 3,600 applications had been granted as of March 2016. Applications were filed on the basis that the information was outdated (51%), inaccurate (30%), or irrelevant for other reasons (25%); obtained in violation of the law (19%); or concerned expunged criminal records (23%) or events containing signs of a crime where the term for criminal prosecution had expired (3%). The large percentage of refusals was explained by the lack of tools to verify the authenticity of the claims. Other search engine operators, such as Google and Mail.ru, reported similar numbers.[17]

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Prepared by Nerses Isajanyan
Foreign Law Consultant
November 2017


[2] Ugolovnyi Kodeks Rossiskoi Federatsii [Criminal Code of the Russian Federation] No. 63-FZ, June 13, 1996, Sobranie Zakonodatelstva Rossiiskoi Federatsii [SZRF] June 17, 1996, No. 25, item 2954, http://pravo.gov.ru/proxy/ips/?docbody&nd=102041891 (in Russian), archived at https://perma.cc/N8FX-NZJX, unofficial English translation available at http://www.wipo.int/edocs/lexdocs/laws/en/ru/ru080en.pdf, archived at https://perma.cc/43WT-78TJ.

[3] A Resident of Volgograd Will Be Sentenced for Publishing Another’s Intimate Pictures, V1.ru (Oct. 25, 2011), http://v1.ru/text/news/448861.html (in Russian), archived at https://perma.cc/2S7Z-5BL7.

[4] Grazhdanskiy Kodeks Rossiiskoi Federatsii [Civil Code of the Russian Federation], No. 51-FZ, Nov. 30, 1994, SZRF Dec. 5, 1994, No. 32, item 3301, http://pravo.gov.ru/proxy/ips/?docbody=&nd=102033239, archived at https://perma.cc/R6HC-TQ72, unofficial English translation available at http://www.wipo.int/edocs/lexdocs/laws/ en/ru/ru083en.pdf, archived at https://perma.cc/5WY8-F7KY.

[5] Id. art. 152-1, para. 3.

[6] Law No. 264-FZ of July 13, 2015, Rossiiskaya Gazeta [Ros. Gaz.] [Russian Gazette (official gazette)] No. 6725 (154) of July 26, 2015, https://rg.ru/2015/07/16/informacia-dok.html, archived at https://perma.cc/PRV8-GSSX.

[7] Zakon ob Informatsii, Informatsionnykh Tekhnologiyakh i o Zaschite Informatsii [Law on Information, Information Technologies] No. 149-FZ, July 27, 2006, SZRF July 31, 2006, No. 31 (Part 1), item 3448, http://pravo.gov.ru/proxy/ips/?docbody&nd=102108264, archived at https://perma.cc/B5LU-Q69T.

[8] Law No. 242-FZ of July 21, 2014, Ros. Gaz. No. 163 of July 23, 2014, https://rg.ru/2014/07/23/persdannye-dok.html, archived at https://perma.cc/82KD-ZWRD.

[9] A.V. Krotov, Right to Be Forgotten in Russia, available at http://xn----7sbbaj7auwnffhk.xn--p1ai/article/14979 (Jan. 9, 2016) (in Russian), archived at https://perma.cc/K5T6-VK7Y.  

[10] Tatiana Shadrina, Now Everyone Can Remove Incorrect Information about Himself from the Web, RG.ru (Dec. 14, 2016), https://rg.ru/2016/01/01/zabvenie-site.html (in Russian), archived at https://perma.cc/43WT-W7KY.

[11] Law on Information, Information Technologiesart. 10-3.

[12] Shadrina, supra note 10.

[13] Law on Information, Information Technologiesart. 2.

[14] Id. art. 10-3.

[15] Grazhdanskiy Protsessualnyi Kodeks Rossiiskoi Federatsii [Civil Procedure Code of the Russian Federation], No. 138-FZ, Nov. 14, 2002, SZRF Nov. 18, 2002, No. 46, item 4532, art. 402, http://pravo.gov.ru/proxy/ips/?docbody=&nd=102078828, archived at https://perma.cc/CY8C-QVT8.

[16] Kodeks Rossiskoi Federatsii ob Administrativnykh Pravonarusheniakh [Code of the Russian Federation on Administrative Offenses], No. 195-FZ, Dec. 30, 2001, art. 17.15, SZRF Jan. 7, 2002, No. 1 (pt. 1), item 1, http://pravo.gov.ru/proxy/ips/?docbody=&nd=102074277&intelsearch=%E0%E4%EC%E8 %ED%E8%F1%F2%F0%E0%F2%E8%E2%ED%FB%F5+%EF%F0%E0%E2%EE%ED%E0%F0%F3%F8%E5%ED%E8%FF%F5 (in Russian), archived at https://perma.cc/V7MK-SJTM.

[17]Yandex” Rejected Two-Thirds of Requests under the Law on the “Right to Oblivion”, RBC.ru (Mar. 25, 2016), http://www.rbc.ru/technology_and_media/25/03/2016/56f5166a9a7947a70d78f725?from=main (in Russian), archived at https://perma.cc/9JXK-3SP6.

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Last Updated: 04/16/2018