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Russian Internet industry carped draft law for news aggregators

Lawmakers promised to improve draft law. Internet companies forewarn mass media can lose their traffic in a case if proposed amendments become law. For example, Russian internet company Yandex is not able to comply with requirements containing in current version of amendments. If its service “Yandex.News” automatically collects about 100 thousands news from 7 thousands resources, company wouldn’t have enough resources to pre-moderate all news collected.

Yandex believes if news aggregators will be treated as mass media, there should be provided same opportunities for them as provided for mass media. For example, mass media have no responsibility for reprint of material issued by informational agency in a case if material is unauthentic etc. It is also pretty hard to comply with requirement regarding foreign participation in news aggregators. Some Russian major internet companies have foreign companies in their corporative structure. But de-facto these companies are Russian organisations, they develop technologies in Russia, on its territory. Such requirement is considered as obstacle for investment in Russian internet companies. There is also questions remain in relation to jurisdiction – how requirements will be implemented in relation to social networks and foreign news aggregators like Google News.

Mass media also are concerned and have many questions in relation to draft law. There is no definition of term “news information”. There is no any clear guideline except 1 million visitors. But even with this quantity is not everything clear and ok. How this million should be counted? Who will count it? Perhaps Russian Roskomnadzor if it is responsible for implementation of proposed law. But should it mean Roskomnadzor will develop and govern rules in order to implement proposed amendments? Russian mass media can lose their auditory thanks to this draft law. It can be 50% of traffic. In order to operate news aggregators companies would reduce quantity of news sources, in best case. Besides, draft law covers worldwide internet, not only Russia segment. It also can mean that if foreign aggregators like Google, Yahoo! do not comply with requirements of proposed amendments they can face permanent blocking in Russia. Perhaps Russian government believes it is the best way to win informational war.

Lawmakers promise they will exclude provisions which cannot technically be implemented. Government also will provide its position. German Klimenko, Russian president’s counsellor on internet called lawmakers to develop the draft. He believes amendments contain many intersections in definitions. “We don’t have established definitions in our industry… Now we try to define what means a news aggregator. With all my respect to lawmakers, they should be careful. We are (in internet) not bad, we are good,” – he said.