Internet development hindered by "half of Russian laws" - experts
N 10 April 2013

Internet development hindered by "half of Russian laws" - experts

Almost half of all Russian laws that regulate the work of the Internet endanger its further development, experts at the Russian Association for Electronic Communications (RAEC) have stated. According to RBC daily, the experts are particularly concerned with the recent laws that provide for blocking sites with illegal content.

Since early 2012 and up to now, there have been 47 Internet-related draft laws put on the floor in the State Duma. RAEC believe only 23% of those initiatives can have a positive influence on the future of the Internet in Russia; and most of the rest will be practically useless.

Three draft bills will be particularly harmful, especially the notorious version of the law aimed at protecting children fr om illegal Internet content, approved in July, 2012. The bill gives the authorities the right to shut down websites with illegal content. RAEC experts, however, say that "some of the bill's provisions were not negotiated with the Internet industry, and the procedure of blocking sites, web addresses and domain names will endanger the Internet's connectivity, lead to huge financial loss on behalf of telecom businesses, and won't eventually achieve the goals set by the lawmakers".

About fifteen legal initiatives bear certain risks for the Internet, RAEC experts believe. Among such draft laws is the one that provides for criminal prosecution of people making, possessing or buying child pornography, i.e. via the Internet. Interpretations of the law can be very vague, the experts say.

Another potentially dangerous bill is that put forth by Duma member Dmitry Litvintsev, who suggested lim iting the number of foreign films distributed and shown in Russia to 20%. The law was not passed by the Duma , and will be re-written, but if it were, it would put film distribution, i.e. online theatres, in jeopardy.

Some of the lawnmakers recent initiatives' however, were approved by RAEC as having positive influence on the Internet, namely the laws that enable citizens to apply for various public services online; and the National payment system bill, giving electronic currencies a status similar to that of banking cards.