Russian media watchdog closes blogger register

Russian media watchdog closes blogger register

1 August 2017

Russian media watchdog Roskomnadzor has closed its register of bloggers, after new legislation rendered the previous rules for regulating the activities of bloggers invalid. But will this change mean real freedom for Russian bloggers?

Under the previous law, which was passed in 2014, bloggers and internet users with public web pages visited by more than 3,000 people a day had to register with the media watchdog. Website owners could voluntarily register for the list, or be ordered to by Roskomnadzor.

Subjecting blogs to many of the rules that apply to media outlets, the former regulations obliged bloggers to disclose their identities, conduct compulsory fact checking, avoid the use of expletives, and refrain from publishing extremist materials and from disclosing private information. Violation of the regulations was punishable by a 30,000 ruble ($476) fine. If a blog on the list was owned by a legal entity, the fine rose to 300,000 rubles ($4,760).

While some popular bloggers may rejoice in the end of a regulation that they argue has been applied unfairly, in a statement regarding the closure of the register, Roskomnadzor highlighted that this change does not make online content a free-for-all: bloggers are required to comply with the requirements of other legislation — including recently passed internet freedom laws — relating to the collection and dissemination of information.

Source: Paper (in Russian)