Russian federal authorities proposed to mitigate new regulation for OTT-services operating in Russia

Two Russian federal authorities proposed to amend draft law on OTT-services operating in Russia. Russian ministry of communication (MinCom) and Federal anti-monopoly service (FAS). MinCom proposed to exclude social networks and services like YouTube from scope of regulation. FAS proposed to exclude services from scope of regulation under the principle of residency.

MinCom proposed to clarify provisions of draft law regulating operation of online audio-visual services. Current redaction of draft law covers social networks and widespread services like YouTube. Due to the fact that YouTube allows natural and legal persons to upload audio-visual content, it falls under proposed regulation. The service would be out of regulation if it provided access “solely” to audiovisual content uploaded by its users who are only natural persons.

MinCom proposed to replace wording “solely” by wording “predominantly”. But this amendment raises a question – how to define such “predominantly”? According to MinCom it would be explained by relevant sub-legislative act. Russian Roskomnadzor develops this act. Other MinCom’s proposal eliminates provisions applying “the right to be forgotten” to online audio-visual services.

FAS proposed to make regulation of draft law more liberal. If more than half of service’s visitors – natural persons – are from Russia or company, organising or operating service in question, disseminates content, created in Russia, overseas, so such service could be excluded from the scope of regulation. Such remedy could protect and improve the development of Russian internal market and incentivise competition between Russian and foreign content.

Industry evaluated proposed amendments positively. Some companies, operating audio-visual services in Russia, have foreign persons among their members (founders), but disseminate content only in Russia and for residents of Russia. Draft law in its current version would make business of such companies cruel. These companies still need financial contributions from overseas investors.