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New draft law provides regulation for messengers like Viber or WhatsApp in Russia

This draft law proposes amendments to the law on information, its protection and informational technologies. The draft provides two definitions. One definition is given for info-communicative services and the other is given to info-communicative services for exchange of instant messages.

Info-communicative service (ICS) is an informational system and/or software for computers, which is intended and/or used for receiving, delivering and/or processing of electronic messages of Internet users for the purposes of exchange of electronic messages between Internet users, including delivering electronic messages to uncertain circle of persons.

Info-communicative service for exchange of instant messages (ICSEIM) is an informational system and/or software for computer, which is intended and/or used for exchange of instant messages, technically inseparably connected with communication services, solely between users of such informational system and/or software for computer, taking into account that sender of electronic message defines receiver(s) of such message and it is not provided to place publicly available information in Internet and sending of electronic messages to uncertain circle of persons.

The draft law provides also obligations for persons, who organises dissemination of information in Internet. First of all such person, including messenger, must restrict mass dispatch of electronic messages, and also restrict delivering of electronic messages containing information disseminated in violation of Russian law, if relevant executive authority requires to do so.

Who can use Viber, WhatsApp or other similar apps under proposed law? Only those persons who can be identified by phone numbers. Identification of user is to be provided by mobile operator by means of subscriber’s phone number under agreement on identification concluded between messenger and mobile operator. Such agreement is a must. Standard form of such agreement is to be adopted by relevant federal executive authority.

Messenger must also provide its users with opportunity to refuse receiving of messages from other users of such messenger. Messenger must keep all transferred data confidential. It also must provide opportunity to dispatch mass messages on request of Russian state authorities under Russian law.

What messenger can get if it will not comply with requirements provided in proposed law? The court must decide that such messenger violates applicable Russian law. In accordance with court decision relevant state authority makes its own decision to restrict guilty messenger. Relevant state authority notifies internet service provider of decision to restrict messenger and ISP executes decision. ISP restrict access to messenger.