Supreme Court made involvement of person, whose web-site can be blocked, mandatory in consideration of case

Current law provides special list of information prohibited for dissemination in Russia. If such information is disseminated through the web-site, the access to such web-site can be restricted and even if the owner or operator of such web-site is not aware thereof. So the owner or operator of web-site can face just notification that the access to his web-site is restricted in Russia. Such practice of web-sites blocking is common in Russia.

Consideration of the case without interested person – owner or operator of web-site – facilitates decision making and reduces transaction costs. Interested person bears all duties arising from blocking – to prove that the blocking is illegal or wrong, to appeal decision to block etc. But Russian Supreme Court has changed this practice. According to its decision the person, whose web-site the relevant authority requires to block, has the right to participate in consideration of the case in order to protect his rights and interests.

One person operates web-site about bitcoin. Prosecutor found this site and decided to restrict access to it, because, as believed prosecutor, the information, published on web-site in question, is prohibited for dissemination in Russia. The district court decided to block this web-site. Its decision has been referred to Roskomnadzor and blocking followed. The operator of web-site did not agree with this decision and appealed because he was not involved in consideration of the case and the decision negatively affects his rights and interests. The appeal has been dismissed. The cassation also has been dismissed. The Supreme Court was the last resort.

The Supreme Court ruled that the court of appeal has erred when concluded that the decision to consider information, published on web-site in question, as prohibited for dissemination in Russia does not affect rights and legal interests of his operator or owner and does not entail any obligation – linked with decision to block – for him. According to Supreme Court if information is considered as illegal, the owner or operator of web-site becomes obliged to delete such information from his web-site. Therefore the court has repealed the decision of the appeal referred the case to the court of appeal for consideration de novo.