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Moscow Helsinki Group criticizes law on ‘blacklist’ of websites

10 April 2013 

Source: (info)
Moscow Helsinki Group has published a report on the law ‘On the protection of children from information causing harm to their health and development,’ a law commonly referred to as the law on the ‘blacklist’ of websites.

Author of the report Ilnur Sharapov, a lawyer working with Agora Human Rights Association, believes ‘the law limits access for all Internet users to an undefined range of information, including adults and fully capable citizens.’ Sharapov points out: 'Once again, as with many other recent laws, we see that rights and freedoms are being restricted through use of maximally vague and undefined legal norms. The law does not meet the requirement of legal certainty, since it does not allow citizens to predict the consequences of their actions. Moreover, the mechanism for implementing the law is such that even well-meaning owners of websites, against whom the authorities have no complaints, could meet with limitations to their constitutional rights for the sole reason that their website shares an IP address with an Internet resource that has been banned.’

The head of the department of strategic development of the Russian Association of Electronic Communications, Irina Levova, says that ‘because of the absence of a detailed consideration of the special features of the Internet, and a failure to take these into account, blocking banned information also results in the blocking of legal content, which contradicts the law ‘On Information’ and Article 29 of the Constitution of Russia.

The report also points out that the procedures for banning access to specific information, the methodology for evaluating this information, and also the procedure for appointing experts, are all unknown to the general public.

Rosbalt reports that the law ‘On the protection of children from information causing harm to their health and development’ (which is often called the law ‘on blacklists of websites’) officially entered into force on 1 November 2012. The law introduces a system of monitoring (and subsequent blocking) or websites that contain content that is considered dangerous for children. After pages with illegal content have been identified, the Russian Agency for Oversight of Communications issues a warning to the owner of the Internet resource. If no reaction follows either from the owner of the website or from the hosting-provider, then the page is added to the ‘blacklist’.