Russian Legislative Strategy of the Internet Regulation

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New scientific discoveries and tech progress always exert influence upon the law. Internet is not an exclusion.

On December, 2012 when the World Conference on International Communications (WCIT) was convened by International Communication Union (ITU) Russian authority has started an intensive attempt of changing Internet function principles. Since then there have been taken a few major steps in regulating this field of law including both successful (in 2012 52 % of population got access to the Internet) and poor (creating Russia’s Internet blacklist) endeavors.

One of the latest events dedicated to this problem took place on February 13, 2013 in State Duma where the deputy of State Duma Robert Shlegel presented “Concept of regulating legal relations in the Internet”. Representatives of such huge Russian media corporations as OZON.ru, Mail.ru Group, WebMoney Transfer, Hosting Community, RU-CENTER and Yandex have attended this conference.

The chairman Robert Shlegel emphasized this initiative as an offer to start modernization of legislation in order to illuminate existing conflicts and deficiency of law which regulates the Russian segment of the Internet.

The Concept states that existing legislation does not include any complex statutory acts devoted to systematic regulating of public relations, which arise in connection of using the Internet. Although there have been brought legal terms e.g. “Internet website”, “network address”, “holder of Internet website” in the Federal Law of July 27, 2006 N 149 “On information, information technologies and on protection of information”, there is no adequate control of legal subjects’ rights, obligations and amenability. In addition, there is no procedural possibility to use the Internet for the needs of judicial proceedings or electronic documents as evidence signed by electronic signature.

Talking about foresaid, I have to mention that due the peculiar properties of the Internet relations it is not enough to implement terms of law using just linguistic or text method. The question is that in the Internet social communication that appears to be an essential element of law as self-organizational, self-developmental and psychosciocultural system is mediated by technical norms i.e. the code. It means that there should be reference or blanket norms in any particular law that affects the Internet relations and separate unified technical regulations.

At the same time, the Concept does take into consideration that the Internet relations are determined by self-regulation and vested architecture and accentuates on collaboration of public agencies and business along with social organizations and citizens.

After this meeting, The Russian Association for Electronic Communications (RAEC) elaborated suggestions on alteration of legislation based on the Concept.

Amongst them is a proposal to bring legislation of the Russian Federation to conformity with international principles and agreements in order to exclude a possible conflict of jurisdictions due to absence of implementation of admitted international law on freedom in the Internet. In particular, it is recommended to allocate “the principle of free delegation” that refers to impossibility of bringing to account for maintenance of information a person who provides communication, hosting and search services unless one has made changes or refused to execute court order. As well, it is advised to prohibit an installation on any public computer of content filter software and to make communication operators responsible for notifying users about all kinds of traffic administration and supervision.

Also ambiguity of informational agent’s responsibilities and abstract admeasurement liability of relationship participants cause serious problems in all spheres of activity. Therefore, RAEC proposed to define the grounds of agents’ accountability for spreading the information, which is prohibited by the law or violates rights of the third party.

These are just a few from a numerous suggestions. Most of them make common and legal sense. However against a background of the news let’s just hope these proposals will have a real influence upon Russian legal system.

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