Russia’s Central Bank, the financial markets regulator in Russia, might soon receive the right to block websites. On 24 January, the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, approved amendments in the first reading to the Federal Law "On Information, Information Technologies and Protection of Information" and the Civil Procedure Code (the Proposed Amendments).

The Proposed Amendments are designed to give the Central Bank the right to block websites violating financial market legislation or used to maintain fraudulent activities.

In Russia, certain websites get blocked. Roskomnadzor, Russia’s internet regulator, maintains a so-called “unified register” of domain names, URLs, and web addresses, also known as the blocked websites register, that identifies websites containing information prohibited from dissemination in Russia. Once a web address is included in this register, hosting providers and communication operators must block the website, meaning that they must restrict access to the website throughout Russia. Only Roskomnadzor and few other government authorities can populate the blocked websites register.

The Proposed Amendments would also give the Central Bank the right to include certain websites in the register, and, in effect, block these websites. Under the Proposed Amendments:

  1. The Central Bank will be able to block fake or mirror websites copying webpages of real banks or using similar website design, contents, or domain names; and financial pyramids websites and websites illegally offering financial services. A website of concern will be included in the blocked websites register by a decision of the chairperson of the Central Bank.
  2. The Central Bank will also be able to fight with phishing websites and other hacking resources providing unauthorized access to the information systems of banks, electronic payment facilities, or bank customers’ devices. In the latter case, the Central Bank will have to file a claim with the Moscow City Court and can request the blocking of a website as an interim measure.

It is expected that the Proposed Amendments will be adopted this spring. If adopted, they will become effective 180 days after the date of adoption; this grace period is required for the government to develop a set of implementing regulations.