The state Duma Committee on information policy on Friday, 15 April, recommended the adoption in the first reading the bill about the news aggregators. The initiative is supported conceptually, but the Committee has the comments of a legal nature. The first reading of the bill scheduled for April 19.
Amendments to the law “On information, information technologies and about protection of information” and the administrative code governing the work of news aggregators, have been submitted to the Duma on 25 February, MPs from the Committee on media Alexei Kazakov (a just Russia) and Alexander Yushchenko (CPRF). The authors of the initiative want to require news aggregators to check the information disseminated, to ensure that among the materials the media did not appear extremist, and on request of Roskomnadzor to restrict the access of readers to information in the event that she violates the law. For failure to comply with these requirements with the aggregators may result in a fine from 100-200 thousand to 5 million rubles.
The proposal to hold aggregators accountable for information that they disseminate the Committee in its conclusion calls redundant. Because according to the law on mass media journalists, and so are obliged to verify the accuracy of published information, the aggregators in the case of the introduction of responsibility will be to duplicate this responsibility, according to the Committee. “…Carry out an additional verification of such information news aggregator unreasonably impose an additional and very onerous duty to verify information that is already verified by the person responsible for its compliance with the law”, — reads the conclusion.
Also the Committee for the second reading were recommended to clarify in the bill the concept of a news aggregator. About this at the meeting said the Committee member Roman Chuychenko, dokladyvaet the Committee’s position.
“We agree that the bill needs significant improvement with the aim to exclude completely the possibility to interpret it as restricting freedom of speech. We expect to continue the dialogue with industry”, — said the Chairman of the Committee Leonid Levin. According to him, on the basis of the expert Council under the Committee created working group which till the end of April will start work on amendments for the second reading.
To finalize the bill in its conclusion, offers and legal Department of the state Duma. In the document prepared for the meeting of the Committee, made claim to the definition of “the owner of news aggregator”. In the current version of the bill he labelled as “the owner of programs for electronic computers, the site owner and (or) site pages in the Internet”, which are used for the processing of news”, which can accommodate advertising and audience that exceeds 1 million people a day. From this definition, for example, it is unclear what the difference between the owner of a news aggregator from the owner to the normal site and should it be made in the special registry created news aggregators, and in the register of bloggers.
Earlier, representatives of the Committee on constitutional legislation and state development (the Committee is co-executor under the law), as written, drew attention that the concept of “news aggregator” as such is not fixed neither in the legislation nor in the proposed amendments. This makes it possible to “varying interpretations of the bill” and could lead to inconsistent enforcement.
In the Committee-the co also found that the responsibility for news aggregators for failing to follow the requirements of Roskomnadzor to suspend the dissemination of information redundant. In addition, members of the constitutional Committee believe that the penalties proposed in the bill, disproportionate to the maximum amounts of administrative fines provided for in the administrative code. The highest penalties the bill provides for owners of news aggregators in the event of default of the requirements of “bringing the constituent documents into conformity with the requirements provided for by law”, — 400-500 thousand roubles for citizens and from 3 to 5 million rubles for legal entities. In this case, in the opinion of the members of the constitutional Committee, the draft law does not set the requirements, the violation of which would be considered a violation of the law.
All the proposals will be discussed with the working group in a closed mode, said Levin.
The second and third reading of the bill will take place not earlier than second half of may, said a source in the Committee. Although the deadline for submission of comments, suggestions and remarks to the draft law expired on April 14, the government us your feedback was not sent.
Amendments from Internet giants
“Yandex” in its review on the bill also notes the vagueness of the definition of “news aggregator”. The company offers a number of criteria to describe a resource like this. Primarily an aggregator of independently chooses and organizes news stories, including on the basis of automatic algorithms. This means that the aggregators cannot be attributed to the sites where information is posted not by the owners and users: owners should not be held responsible for the user content, explains “Yandex”. Second, lawyers “Yandex” offer to clearly separate news aggregators from search engines, since the latter are not engaged in the dissemination of information, but only searches by user request, indexing a huge array of information in automatic mode, and evaluate information for its validity and reliability.
The company’s lawyers say that the requirements of the bill should only apply to aggregate news information, which is presented on the resource of a news aggregator, but not associated with that information data (such as user comments, SERPs and so on). “Yandex” also suggests narrowing down the term “news information”: now the only criterion for its definition of accessibility. According to the company, to determine news through other criteria: for example, this information should relate to current socio-political events, etc.
The review States that submitted to the aggregators requirements unenforceable because it does not correspond to their actual capabilities. Most of the requirements can be made only to persons who directly prepare news content, according to “Yandex”. In the company’s opinion, the bill should make it clear that to stop the dissemination of specific information aggregator may, upon the decision of the authorized body of Executive power, and not as a result of pre-moderation of news. Another option to improve the bill is to prescribe the rate that the aggregator needs to collect data from sources that are registered as mass media, who themselves are responsible for checking information for accuracy and compliance with the legislation, stated in a review of “Yandex”.
Excessive and wearing a “prohibitive” for most owners, aggregators lawyers “Yandex” calls restrict foreign ownership. The company also expresses its concern that the vague wording in the bill could lead to the fact that the requirements on the limitation of foreign ownership no more than 20% can be applied to any working in Russia the resource.
“The original idea of the bill is clear, but we see serious flaws in the current wording of the bill”, — said the representative of the Mail.Ru Group. The company believes that the definition of news aggregator in its current form “can be applied to almost any online service, including instant messengers, social networks, search and more”. Aggregator “is actually equal to media responsibility and devoid of additional guarantees of the rights of journalists and exclusions of liability for certain actions (including re-publication other media and news agencies),” said Mail.Ru Group. The company believes it necessary to eliminate the restriction on the participation of foreign capital, “as this measure will affect not only Internet companies, but the investment climate as a whole — in essence, this means limitation on investments in Russian Internet”.