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Putin signs new 'anti-blogger' law

0 6 May 2014

Vladimir Putin has signed into law a controversial bill that brings popular bloggers under the same legislation as media organisations. 

This means that from August 1st bloggers whose daily audience regularly exceeds 3000 visitors will be liable to sanctions for publishing inaccurate material, divulging state secrets promoting pornography or using swear words. They will be obliged to fact check before publication, and to subsequently remove any content shown to be in error. 

The government’s internet-policing department Roskomnadzor, which also oversees Russia’s notorious internet blacklist, will be responsible for registering popular bloggers. To help it to do so, bloggers must indicate their real name and address on their blog. Hosting providers will be obliged to hand over information about bloggers’ popularity and are to face fines if they fail to do so. 

The new law has been met with criticism from bloggers and internet companies alike. Rambler&Co, which runs the Russian version of LiveJournal, the country’s most popular blogging platform, commented that the Russian internet doesn't need any more regulation. It also dropped the top category on its subscribers’ page to 2500+ in order to circumvent the legislation. 

Yandex, Russia’s biggest internet company, chose to abolish its blog rating system completely in order to make Roskomnadzor’s task more difficult. It also commented that the law stands to increase the government’s control over the net and that this would have a negative impact on the industry. 

High profile blogger Anton Nosik claimed that the move proves that even China’s lawmakers are “much more liberal” than the Russian authorities regarding control of the blogosphere, while prominent anti-Putin blogger Andrei Malgin claimed that “the goal is to kill off the political blogosphere by the fall.”

This week a meeting will take place between representatives of Russia’s major internet companies and deputy vice-president Igor Shuvalov at which the internet industry is expected to present its concerns regarding the government’s internet policy in written form. In a recent interview Echo Moskvy chief-editor Alexei Venedictov, who organised the meeting, described the Kremlin’s approach to the web as “repressive” and “bad for business”.

Source: TJournal

Top image via Shutterstock

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