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Mass media asked RKN to clarify hyperlink punishment

Not so long time ago the Russian internet watchdog Roskomnadzor has claryfied that the hyperlink to web-site or web-page, containing informatino forbidden for dissemination in Russia, is also dissemination of information in violation of Russian law. In other words if you place hyperlink to web-site, regardles of its updating with content, you are liable for information on such web-site, even if the operator or owner of such web-site updated such information you have hyperlinked to.

Great, right? Such Roskomnadzor’s practice Russian mass media have called “hyperlink” punishment. Russian internet watchdog Roskomnadzor can fine mass media for hyperlink if it leads to web-site or web-page with forbidden information. Russian publishing houses don’t like such practise, therefore they have asked Roskomnadzor to clarify the rationale of its practice to fine for hyperlinking. Major media and news publishers have singed collective letter to the Roskomnadzor’s chief.

The letter states that the hyperlink to external web-site or web-page is pointing to the orignial resource of information. It could be users’ account in social networks, video platforms, blogs or any other web-site without status of mass media. Hyperlinks allows internet user to learn and perhaps read the primary source. Such primary source can contain explicit content, including obscene content. Obscene content can appear on linked page after the hyperlink has been posted on mass media’s web publication.

Russian law forbids dissemination of obscene material. If Roskomnadzor reveals such information it could penalize the operator of resource where the obscene content has been found. But if the Roskomndor finds obscene material thanks to mass media by way of clicking on hyperlink, it would fine for placing of hyperlink even if the hyperlink does not contain obscene content. Roskomnadzor believes the hyperlinking is also dissemination of information and qualifies it as administrative offence. The liability for such administrative offence is up to 200 thousands roubles for legal entity.

The Russian media and news publishers believe such practice contradicts to the Russian law. They believe de facto they are held liable for dissemination of information by the third persons. The hyperlink is just means to point to the original source. It is like address in the street. You would not be penilized for publishing address of the street where a crime has been committed. Mass media are not obliged to monitor third parties websites, the Russian law does not require to do so. They believe RKN’s practice infringe mass media rights.

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