Russian authorities now have the ability to block websites that are considered dangerous for children without a trial.

We do not believe that our clients would display information potentially harmful for children on their websites. However, at this stage, we would recommend that clients take this new regulation into account, as there is no practice regarding the construction of the amendments, and at least pay attention to potential notices originating from Roskomnadzor regarding these amendments, especially in connection with the possible misuse of out-of-court blocking of web-sites as currently discussed in mass media.

On 1 November 2012 the amendments to the Law on Protection of Children from the Information Damaging their Health and Development (the “Law”) came into effect in Russia. The amendments to the Law are also unofficially called the Law on the Black Listing of Websites. This is because the method of protecting children provided in the amendments includes the possibility of the governmental authorities, namely the Federal Service of Surveillance in the Sphere of Communications, Mass Media and Informational Technologies (the “Roskomnadzor”) monitoring and blocking potentially dangerous websites that contain information considered harmful to children.

According to Roskomnadzor officials, the black list of dangerous websites will mostly contain Internet resources displaying child pornography and propaganda in relation to drugs or suicides. In addition, the Law also lists the following content that may lead to a website being blacklisted:

  • grounding or justifying violence or advocating violence against humans or animals,
  • challenging family values and fomenting disrespect towards parents or other members of the family;
  • justifying illegal acts and providing information containing obscene wording among types of information banned for distribution among children.

The list of potentially dangerous websites may now be checked at the address supported by the Roskomnadzor.

The authority is supposed to notify the Internet service provider of a decision to blacklist the website, and the decision itself should be delivered on the basis of a decision of the board of examiners certified by Roskomnadzor. The Internet Service provider notifies the website operator accordingly within one day of the receipt of the notification from Roskomnadzor.

If the website operator does not remove the content considered harmful within one day of receipt of the notification from the Internet service provider, the Internet Service Provider will be obliged to block access to the content in issue, according to the new relevant amendments to the Law on Communications. The decision of Roskomnadzor to blacklist the Internet resource may be appealed at court within a 3-month period from the date of the Roskomnadzor decision, by the website operator or by the Internet service provider.

The blacklisting should be withdrawn within three days of the removal of the harmful content and relevant notification to Roskomnadzor by the website operator or the Internet service provider, or after a successful court appeal against the Roskomnadzor decision to blacklist.

The Law, which came into force two months before the amendments, inter alia specifies the kind of potentially harmful information which may still be displayed to children younger than six, younger than twelve, younger than sixteen, and younger than eighteen. The Law now requires radio and TV mass media to use relevant signs in their programs that state whether the program is suitable for viewing by the different age categories of children, e.g. 0 or + for programs that can be viewed by children under six, 6+ for programs that can be viewed by children older than six etc.