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“Naughty” companies can be punished in Russia by way of slowing down traffic to their web-sites

If company, incorporated outside Russia, sometimes ignores requirements of authorities regardless of their nature what state authorities can do? They have proposed to slow down access to web-sites of such companies in order to hamper access to their web-sites for ordinary people in Russia. Such measure could create better competitive conditions for Russian companies. This idea has been generated during consideration of dispute between Russian Federal Anti-monopoly Service and Google.

Amendments to relevant Russian legal acts have been proposed in order to make companies to comply with Russian requirements of Russian law regardless of incorporation. Even if company is incorporated in or it business activity is regulated by legislation of foreign country, such company must comply with Russian law and requirements of state authorities. It is only a legislative initiative; it is not a draft law.

But some experts doubt this initiative is realizable. They believe it is easier to make penalties tougher rather than technically implement such measure. ISPs negatively evaluate proposed amendments. Users would blame ISP for their low speed of internet connection. As a consequence net neutrality could suffer.

Russian president’s counselor on internet, German Klimenko, believes it is unreasonable decision to slow down internet connection to web-sites of “bad” companies. He believes there are Civil code, criminal code, penalties and such legislative instruments could be applied instead of proposed measure. “Technically it sounds beautiful… but I’m afraid this story was not considered through the “money filter”, – he said.

But it is not all. Amendments, providing this measure, to Russian administrative code, to Russian legislation on consumers’ rights protection and to Russian legislation on protection of competition, prescribe “restriction of access to informational systems and programs for computers” for committing administrative offence. Such restriction means low internet connection as well as blocking of internet resource. So if the slow internet connection does not help – blocking would resolve everything.

How proposed amendments should be implemented in practice? Decreasing of speed of internet connection to web-sites and applications follows first administrative offence. Total blocking for three months follows repeated administrative offence. The court is authorised to decide whether blocking must be applied.

Russian Roskomnadzor is authority supervising procedure of blocking or decreasing internet connection. The court can decide to repeal blocking or decreasing of internet speed connection prior to expiration of 3-month period if the offender has remedied breach of applicable law. Moscow court is the court authorised to consider such cases. If the offender continues to breach the applicable law, a new protocol on administrative offence is to be made.