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Russian Bloggers and Media Must Register with Government as New Law Goes into Effect

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Russian bloggers have started to receive notifications on Friday under a new law that requires popular bloggers to register with the government.

According to a report by GigaOM, the notices are being sent out by Russian telecommunications regulator Roskomnadzor, and the first bloggers to receive them include far-left writer Eduard Limonov, comedian Mikhail Galustyan and News Media CEO Ashot Gabrelyanov.

The new law was signed by Russian president Vladimir Putin in May, which requires websites with 3,000 or more visits per day as a media outlet that is required to publish accurate information. Critics say the law is just another way for Russia to maintain control over what is published online in the country.

“As print and broadcast converge online, as social media plays an increasingly critical role in transmitting news to a mass audience, the Internet has become the primary means through which news is disseminated globally. It has also become an information chokepoint,” the Committee to Protect Journalists said. “Repressive governments are recognizing that the Internet is no longer the province of the connected elite. It’s a form of mass communication which, when unfettered, presents a threat to centralized power and control.”

The so-called bloggers law doesn’t allow for anonymity, and in order to be in compliance, bloggers must avoid hate speech and obscene language. The consequences of not following the rules include fines of up to $14,000.

Aside from the bloggers law, Russia has been cracking down on its Internet policies through other legislation as well. In July, an amendment was passed to an existing law that will require all data to be hosted within the country’s borders by 2016.

With such tight government control over most aspects of the Internet in the country, Russia is not a very welcoming environment for service providers, especially as ISPs will have to monitor users and ensure they are following the new laws.

The new law is being instated as more sanctions are being ordered against Russia, including blocking access to five of the country’s major banks, as a reaction to the downing of Malaysian Airlines MH17 over Ukraine, according to a report by the CBC.

 

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