Large online news aggregators are now equated to mass media in Russia. The new federal law, signed by President Vladimir Putin in late June 2016, which has entered into force as from Jan. 1, 2017, provides that online aggregators with traffic exceeding one million visitors per day will have to distribute “only truthful information”.
From now on, aggregators with such a high level of traffic will have to be owned only by Russian companies (basically, to have a legal entity registered in Russia) or by the country’s citizens. That mainly concerns Google, Mail.ru, Yandex, as well as Bring.
Such aggregators are now required to check authenticity of socially important information prior to its distribution and delete it upon a request from the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media.
What’s more, the news aggregators are now asked to store for up to six months the information they disclose, information on sources, as well as the period of publication. Russia’s communications authority, which keeps a register of such news aggregators, must have access to these data.
Important to note, that the aggregators will not be liable for distribution of the information directly quoted from news sources recognized by Russian state authorities as mass media. However, they are forbidden to disclose information containing a state secret, as well as dissemination of so called “calls for terrorism” or “public justification of terrorism”.
Also, according to the law, owners of aggregators are obliged to prevent the use of the service for the dissemination of the news with the purpose discredit citizens on the grounds of their gender, age, racial or ethnic origin, as well as in connection with their political beliefs. They are obliged to comply observe the prohibitions and restrictions the Russian law on elections envisages.
The law on news aggregator was approved by the Russian State Duma at the third reading and signed by Vladimir Putin in June 2016. Initially, under the draft decree, fist submitted to the Duma in Feb. 2016, the aggregators were required to be a Russian legal entity with foreign ownership of no more than 20%, which is the same requirement that went into effect for mass media companies in Russia as of 2016.
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