liability of foreign Internet companies in current information legislation

The development of a unified information space of the Russian Federation is one of the most important tasks facing the government, which should solve problems of not only the development of the information space, information society, but also the inevitable accompanying problems - information security.

The source of the spread of the media in any network is public and open information resources. It is known that "network information processes are characterized by the breadth of the audience, high efficiency, the variety of forms of information influence with feedback of supplier of information. This combination leads to the fact that the global computer networks have become a powerful tool of expression and the formation of public opinion. As such, they are close in their capabilities to the traditional media, and in some cases exceed them.[1]

The freedom of the Internet from commercial and political constraints along with its accessibility and interactivity gives electronic communications democratizing huge potential because it allows you to avoid censorship and regulation. However, on the other hand, these features are the basis of existing information security threats and illegal activities of economic entities, the uncontrolled proliferation of advertising, etc. "Life" in the realities of the Russian legislation of foreign Internet companies has recently become of particular relevance and, therefore, the attention of the legislator.

Viktor Kopylov, who has spearheaded the information law, called an important feature of the global information space the lack of geographical and geopolitical boundaries of the States Parties, resulting in a "collision" and "breaking" the national laws of the countries in these networks. Internet- as noted by V.A. Kopylov - in fact, represents a new Habitat for Humanity, a new environment for activities of the individual, society and state. This is often called a virtual environment, keeping in mind the fact that information - the main object of this environment - by physical

"touch" is not palpable. [2]But the information today - the concept is extremely broad, it is first and foremost - a serious resource, one of the driving forces of modern society, and therefore relation to the information provided and transmitted to any Internet resource, especially if we are talking about foreign representatives, is more than close.

A lot of facts show strengthening state control over Internet resources. Thus, the Federal Law of 28.07.2012 N 139-FZ introduced to Federal Law of 27.07.2006 N 149-FZ "On Information, Information Technologies and Protection of Information" Art. 15.1., which established the Unified Register of domain names containing information prohibited for the spread in the Russian Federation.

Changes introduced by Federal Law number 139-FZ, established four bases of registration of domain names and network addresses in the Register. These include online resources containing:

  • -materials with pornographic image of minors;
  • -information on the development and use of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors etc;
  • -materials promoting committing suicide, and ways of committing a suicide;
  • -data on minors suffered as a result of illegal actions (or inaction).

The problem of registering Internet resources in the Unified Register of domain names is mixed. One of the views - conducting preventive measures, of course, is good, but one must take into account the specifics of the Internet, which allows you to bypass almost any restriction since the global network itself does not belong to anyone and is often regulated only at the national level.[3]'’

By studying the rich experience of foreign countries on this issue, one can come to the conclusion that a variety of different filters is designed primarily for ordinary Internet users, and presents no particular difficulty for technicians. For example, a study conducted at Harvard University found that circumvention tools in the World Wide Web "are difficult to use and have disadvantages, so in practice they are not less than 2% of users of the country."

Among the recent legislative initiatives implemented there is a converting segment of the Internet for public authorities in a separate segment of the Russian state (corresponding decree was signed by the President of May 22, 2015), the emergence of a new obligation[4] for the operators engaged in the processing of personal data, to ensure the implementation of all activities related to the collection and storage of personal data of citizens of the Russian Federation, with the use of databases, including the Internet, on the territory of the Russian Federation, as well as the responsibilities of the organizer of the dissemination of information in the Internet on partial data storage about traffic and users in Russia and their provision at the request of the competent authorities, according to the so- called "law of bloggers."[5] This law requires authors of Internet resources (websites, blogs, etc.) with the audience of "more than 3,000 people a day" to get registered in Roskomnadzor and imposes a number of serious limitations on the contents of these resources.

The above-mentioned federal law establishes a series of strict requirements to ensure the cooperation of Internet services with the Russian law-enforcement agencies (mainly with the FSB). This regulation is in many respects is similar to those provided to telecom operators, and mainly represents an attempt to extend to the Internet and communication services the same provisions as to the telecom operators - just as the same law extended to the number of bloggers the provisions of the legislation.

Violation of the requirements of the laws in this area entails criminal, administrative or other liability in accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation.

Thus, failure to comply with obligations on the interaction with the authorized bodies may entail administrative liability under p. 2, Art. 13.31 (failure to provide information at the request) and p. 3 Art. 13.31 (non-realization of requirements to hardware and software as well as a disclosure of information about the organizational and tactical means of implementing the operative-search activities) of the Administrative Code with a fine, the maximum size of which for legal entities may reach 500 thousand rub.

Flowever, it is difficult to realize the imposition of sanctions on foreign Internet companies in practice. Actions of Roskomnadzor today are limited only by preventive measures - including the latest - the banal delivery of official letters demanding to put an end to the violation of the Russian legislation and the prevention of the possible initiation of administrative offenses. Such actions by Roskomnadzor were caused by the fact that Facebook, Twitter, and Google did not provide the requested data on daily attendance of a number of customs pages, and data identifying the owners of accounts with a daily attendance of more than 3 thousand peopie. While the Code of Administrative Offences of the Russian Federation (Art. 7.19.10) provides the following liability: a fine of up to 300 thousand rubles - for legal entities, for repeated violation - up to 500 thousand rubles or administrative suspension of activity for up to 30 days. Quit grounded views are expressed589 - if Russia decides to fine Facebook and Twitter, then it will be difficult to collect the money from them. At the same time in our country agents of these companies collect money for advertising, and these funds can be collected through the courts - except for the remuneration of the agent for the work.

As to Google, Russia has a subsidiary company of this American corporation, but it does not guarantee that one can collect a fine.

There is only one way out and one effective measure - blocking access to such Internet resources. Thus, according to the deputy head of Roskmonadzor Ksenzov "We can tomorrow for a few minutes block Twitter or Facebook in Russia. We do not see this as a big risk. If at any point we estimate that the impact of the "blocking" social networks will be less significant compared to the harm caused by the unconstructive position of the Russian public management of international companies, we will do what is required to do under the law. "39° However this position seems too radical and not popular among mainstream users who are used to communicate and receive information through these systems.

And the very possibility of extra-judicial blocking of Internet resources has repeatedly been criticized.

The experience of foreign countries is interesting. Thus, according to a study of Civil Society Fund foreign countries block the following information:

  • -messages of political nature (Vietnam, China);
  • -sites undermining economies (USA, UAE, Oman);
  • -materials that violate family values and social norms (Saudi Arabia, Iran and other Muslim countries);
  • -resources of extremist and terrorist movements, websites of scams (South and North Korea, Georgia);
  • -Internet tools bypassing locks (China, Cuba).

In general, very mixed reviews should be noted of adopted and passed laws anyway aimed at regulating activities of foreign Internet companies. Thus, according to A.I. Savelyev, a legal adviser in the company IBM (Russia / CIS), senior researcher in Scientific Research Institute of [6] [7]

HSE,351 "only a few countries have introduced certain restrictions on the storage of personal data abroad, and even then only on certain categories of personal data, primarily of a financial nature (China) or requiring from the owners specific types of web sites (news, social networking and online gaming) of local storage of copies of relevant data to provide them to the competent authorities and to facilitate the consideration of claims of users, without prohibiting parallel processing abroad (Vietnam).

Even China, which has the most advanced system of control over the Internet in the world, did not go to the full localization of personal data, so that the model fixed in the current version of the law number 242, has no analogues in the world, which is another confirmation of its nonviability (at least if significant adjustments are made in it). Taking into account clear orientation of Act number 242 against the foreign Internet companies, it is likely to have very political objectives, becoming one of the sanctions of the second level, while the role of guns in the first level of sanctions in Russia has traditionally been played by Rospotrebnadzor


One can have different attitudes to this view however it is obvious that not all foreign Internet companies will be able to realize themselves in a major change of information legislation. However, a number of them have carried out serious work on the adaptation of their activities to the existing realities. On May 20 at the expanded meeting of the head of Roskomnadzor Head of the Establishment Alexander Zharov already informed about the consent of the American companies Google, eBay and Chinese AliExpress to store personal data of its Russian users on servers in Russia. The law requiring to store data of the Russians in the country, will come into force on September 1 this year. At the same time, by 15 August Roskomnadzor plans to form a register of "violators of the rights of subjects of personal data."

Generally in different countries there are their own approaches to solving these and other problems of information law relating to the activities of foreign Internet companies. For example, China managed to put the use of the Internet into the rigid framework, with many hazardous services e.g. foreign social networks are forbidden, and access to the resources of the web is carried out only on the basis of users’ genuine personal data. Naturally, this situation helps the law enforcement bodies and special services to deal with incidents and offenses in the national information field. In recent years, the media has not mentioned a single major incident of leakage of information of limited access from government agencies in China.

5,1 Savelyev A.I. Legislation on data localization and its impact on e-commerce market in Russia//Act.-2014,-N9.

The base of the system of control over the information sphere used in the United States is the power and the country's leading position in the field of information technology. It should be noted that today the US is the world leader in the number of high-performance computer equipment, including used in the public sector for the needs of defense and security.

It is also known that there are several large data centers operating in the interests of the security sendees and military agencies. These features allow the US to control not only the national information sphere, but also information resources, as well as Internet traffic and communications in other countries. Made public the facts on the activities of US intelligence indicate the total control on their part of the information resources, authorities and government officials in several European and Latin American countries as well as employees of international organizations. However, even such serious forces have not helped the country avoid major leaks of classified information, because of the activity of an Internet resource "Wikileaks" and disclosures of Edward Snowden.

It is important that Russia will manage to find its optimal variant of regulation of information relations on the Internet, settle relations with all Internet resources, including foreign Internet companies, balancing the interests of all: the state, each citizen of Russia, the whole of society, and, certainly foreign Internet companies ....

  • [1] A.L. Osipenko. The fight against crime in the global computer networks. Internationalexperience. M Norma, 2004. P. 33.
  • [2] Kopylov V.A. Information law: Textbook. - M Jurist, 2002. - P. 235.
  • [3] Nikolaev V. Negative sites: find and neutralize // PE-Lawyer. - 2014. - N 16-17.
  • [4] The Federal Law of 21.07.2014 N242-FZ of "On Amendments to Certain LegislativeActs of the Russian Federation with regard to the clarification of the processing of personal datain information and telecommunications networks"
  • [5] Federal Law N 97-FZ dated May 5, 2014 "On Amendments to the Federal Law" on Information, Information Technologies and Protection of Information "and some legislative acts ofthe Russian Federation on ordering the exchange of information using information and telecommunication networks"
  • [6] Izvestia: Roskomnadzor warned Facebook, Twitter and Google on the liability // Access:
  • [7] Izvestia: "We do not see major risks in blocking Twitter in Russia" // Access: 70863
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