01 Jan 2017 Lvl. 2
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Alert created on: 16 Jun 2016 n° 63/2016 Russian Federation

Law on News Aggregators Undermines Media Freedom Online

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner Article 19 Index RSF
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Partner Article 19 Index RSF
On 10 June 2016, the Russian State Duma approved amendments to the Law ‘On Information, Information Technologies and Protection of Information’ and the Russian Federation Code of Administrative Offences”. According to the amendments, “news aggregators” – that is, owners of Internet search engines – with more than one million daily users would be required to check the truthfulness of "publicly important" information before its dissemination. If "publicly important" information collated by news aggregators is found to be falsified, Roskomnadzor (the Russian Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications) can demand its removal. Where material is not removed, individuals can be fined up to three hundred thousand rubles (4,000 EUR), officials - up to seven hundred thousand rubles (9,500 EUR), and legal entities – up to three million rubles (40,500 EUR).

The law includes a number of broad terms that are open to abuse. It also confers liability on third parties for others’ materials, which may act as a form of censorship. Dunja Mijatović, OSCE Special Representative on Freedom of the Media, has raised concerns that this law “could result in governmental interference of online information and introduce self-censorship in private companies”, reducing the free flow of information online.

The amendments, which had previously passed two readings in the Duma, received unanimous support from all 319 Duma deputies. On 11 June, as required by the Russian Constitution, the draft law was sent for consideration by the Federation Council, which will either adopt or reject the draft law within a fourteen day period. If adopted, the draft law would be sent to the President for signing within a 5 day period, before entering into legal force.
Updates
01 Jan 2017
On 1 January 2017 the law on news aggregators entered into force.
23 Jun 2016
On 23 June 2016 Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the new law on news aggregators.
Follow-ups
15 Jun 2016
Law regulating news aggregators in Russia might negatively affect freedom of information on Internet, OSCE Representative says
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