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New order provides criteria to determine whether information is to be blocked in Internet in Russia

This “collective order” has been issued by Russian ministry of internal affairs, Russian Federal Taxation Service, Russian Roskomnadzor and Russian Federal service on protection of customers’ rights. This order is very interesting. It provides criteria under which it is possible to determine whether information is to be forbidden for dissemination in Russian segment of Internet.

For instance, pornographic materials. The current Russian law does not provide definition what is pornographic materials, it only forbids its dissemination. Special commission must define whether the material is pornographic. But the order provides details, without their clarification, what is to be deemed pornographic materials. It is subject of law regulation, not the order’s regulation. But it is better than nothing in order to cease dissemination of child pornography.

The main “punch line” of this order is the right of Russian Federal Taxation Service to block VPN service or anonymiser. The law regulating blocking of VPN services has been not adopted, it is only considered in Russia state duma. RBC has asked Federal Taxation Service what the legal reason is to provide FTS with authority to define whether one or another VPN service or anonymiser infringes Russian law.

The wording of order in relation to blocking of VPN service of anonymiser provides that “web-page in Internet network must contain information and/or software for computer enabling to receive access to web-site in Internet network, or to web-page in Internet network, included in Single Register (so called “black list”), where information, forbidden for dissemination in Russia, is placed or published.”

FTS replied that the order has been issued in order to execute the governmental decree #1101 (26.10.2012), providing the rules of making decision in relation to certain types of information and materials, disseminated by means of info-telecommunication Internet network in violation of Russian law.

But the FTS also underlined that it does not have the right “to block computer software, enabling to receive access to web-site in Internet (with information forbidden for dissemination in Russia), it only has the right to make decision in relation to web-sites or their separate pages, containing information forbidden for dissemination in Russian Federation, including those web-sites or their separate pages where such software (VPN or anonymiser) is available.”

The ministry of internal affairs stated that the main “developer” of this order is Roskomnadzor, therefore it would be more reasonable to ask it directly about blocking of VPN services. It seems Roskomnadzor has issued the order ahead of the law, in order to “save time and resources”.