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Russian and Yandex dislike the way how telecom companies proposed to regulate OTT-services and messengers

Major Russian internet companies and Yandex dislike the draft bill, proposed by Russian media-communication union. This draft bill provides regulation for OTT-services and messengers. Interpretation of draft bill can be too broad and affect not only Viber and WhatsApp, but other services, including those, who work in internal Russian marketplace and from Russia.

Actually, MKS’s idea is taking control over foreign services like Viber and WhatsApp and making more preferable conditions for Russian companies and services, mostly telecom. But the realisation of this idea, proposed by MKS’s draft bill, can make situation for Russian services much worse than it would be without this draft bill. Under MKS draft bill, services like Viber, have to work in Russia under simple condition – they must conclude agreement with mobile operators.

Russian condemned this draft bill. If it will be adopted in current version, it will undermine competitive position of Russian internet companies and cause outflow of users from Russian to foreign services, believes vice-president of According to him the draft is full of “mismatches” and “defects”. The wording of draft sometimes is too broad, like in case of messenger. Under definition fall not only Viber or WhatsApp, but also any other web-site providing internet users with opportunity to communicate with each other. Services like e-mail, forums etc. also fall under definition of messenger.

There is also one thing. If messenger must conclude agreement with mobile network operators, does it mean that only owners of cell phones can use app like Viber or WhatsApp? There are other apps (messengers) for laptops, tablets and PC. If user of messenger communicates with other users through his laptop, where is a need to identify a user if internet traffic is a “jurisdiction” of special services?

Vice-president of also has mentioned the problem with dissemination of information in violation of applicable Russian law. The draft requires preventing of such dissemination. But how to define what information is in accordance with law, and what information violates the law? Does it mean that messenger is obliged to monitor all messages, information and data transmitted or communicated between its users and without court order? Does it violate the privacy right, provided in Russian constitution?

According to MKS, the proposal has been drafted with idea to make equal positions for all market players. The rules for foreign ownership of shares in companies are applied in many countries and fully conform to international practice.

Mail and Yandex have sent the letter to Russian minister of communication. This letter outlined their concerns about negative consequences for Russian internal market of internet services and industry in common if draft law becomes a law.