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Monday, March 19, 2018

Self-censorship in social networks: the state Duma does not intend to pull the controversial bill

The government supported the concept of the bill, which requires social networks from 1 January 2018 under the threat of million of fines during the day to remove at the request of the user is “misleading”, defamatory and any illegal information. Introduced by deputies of “ER” 12 Jul document an emergency is being prepared for adoption in the first reading: July 18, it will consider the relevant Committee for information policy, information technologies and communications.

photo: pixabay.com

The bill was signed by the members of the faction “United Russia” Sergei Boyarsky and Andrey Alshevskih. But the next day after making the Duma Council decided that the relevant Committee needs to gather feedback in the shortest possible time, to July 18, and the initiative was included in the programme of work of the spring session, which ends July 21. Everything is unmistakably pointed to the clearly expressed political will and support of the Kremlin.

On July 17, the opinion of the government were as promptly considered by the government Commission on legislative activities. Approved a draft opinion (“MK”) contains many serious observations — so serious that their list actually would be accompanied by the verdict, “the government does not support”. But the verdict is very different: “the concept of the bill is generally supported,” and the text “needs additional refinement”…

Here are just a few listed in the review comments.

It should be clarified “definition of categories of information subject to restriction and removal on-demand users.” “Used in the bill the concept of “false information” is missing in the legislation and is subjective” – according to government lawyers.

The text of the bill not clear, says the document is supposed to count the number of users of social networks (the authors want to extend it to the social network with the number of users more than 2 million people).

From foreign networks United Russia consider it necessary to require the creation of representative offices in Russia, but the status of such offices from the bill incomprehensible, according to the government.

The period of one day to remove information at the request of the user and the “removal procedure” (apparently this refers to the absence of this procedure — the bill requires automatic satisfaction of the applicant) to the Cabinet of Ministers seem to be “insufficiently substantiated”. Thus, according to the opinion, “the person who posted the information, there is no possibility in any way to challenge the restriction and deletion, as provided for in the bill period does not allow to properly check the fact of illegality”.

The requirement to delete copies of illegal information and to store such information within 3 months “impose significant financial burdens on operators of social networks and potentially bear background care operators of social networking from the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation”, according to the government. The desire to oblige the social network to provide quarterly reports on the consideration of the applications seemed “excessive”.

In conclusion, States that no bill, “to date, all presented at the territory of the Russian Federation social networks have efficient tools with which users can at any time apply to the administrators of social networks against unwanted content with a view to its removal,” and “proposed a mechanism to channel complaints of illegal content should take into account established practice in this field.”

Typically, the projects in the bill the government is preparing the relevant agencies. In this case, it is necessary to understand, such was the Ministry of communications.

“As the government supported the concept of the bill, we have reason to consider the initiative of deputies”,- said the “MK” head of the Committee on information policy, information technologies and communications Leonid Levin (“CP”). Committee meeting scheduled for July 18. As to the date of the debate in the plenary on this issue, said Mr. Levin, “will be decided by the Council of the Duma.”

Possible dates, in fact, only two: July 19 or July 21. After that, the spring session of the state Duma ends and the deputies go on vacation until September.

Meanwhile on 20 July, the Committee on information policy, information technologies and communications was scheduled and an extended meeting on this topic. “Although in General until the end of the session a bill will not be accepted, we now it is important to hear the opinion of experts and industry,” – said in a conversation with “MK” Mr. Levin. For discussion, he said, invited representatives of Facebook, Twitter, Instagramm, Vkontakte and “Classmates”.


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