Russia has adopted a new law further toughening the country’s Internet-blocking regime and introducing a number of restrictive measures applicable to intermediaries providing access to blocked websites, IT networks, and information resources (hereinafter, “Blocked Websites”).
The relevant provisions of Federal Law No. 276-FZ dated July 29, 2017 (the “Anonymizers Law”), came into force on November 1, 2017.
Due to the vague wording and ambiguities, the enforcement of and practice on the Anonymizers Law will likely be complicated.
In 2012, Federal Law No. 307-FZ was adopted (the “Law on Blocking Websites”), which established a Russian register of Blocked Websites (the “Register”) maintained by the Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies, and Mass Communications (Roskomnadzor).
Pursuant to the Law on Blocking Websites:
- Websites containing information the dissemination of which is illegal in Russia (such as pornography, information about drugs, suicide, racism, copyright violations, etc.) must be included into the Register following a short remedy period, during which a website owner may remove all relevant information from the website and avoid the inclusion.
- If the website is included into the Register, access to it from the territory of Russia must be blocked.The scope of the Law on Blocking Websites only extends to blocking access to websites containing the prohibited information and does neither prohibit nor restrict any software or hardware allowing to get access to Blocked Websites and serving as an intermediary between users and Blocked Websites (such software or hardware, the “Access Tools”). As a result, users could in practice visit Blocked Websites and the Russian authorities could do nothing about it.