New law in Russia could harm access to information online, OSCE Representative says
VIENNA, 14 July 2015 – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today said, she was concerned about amendments to the Russian Law on Information, Information Technologies and Protection of Information which requires Internet search engines to delete information upon request of individuals.
The amendments were enforced by the President of the Russian Federation on 14 July.
“This law has a great potential to negatively affect the free flow of information online and access to information, damage the universality of the Internet, and eventually result in content restrictions by private entities,” Mijatović said.
On 26 June the Representative wrote to the authorities expressing her concern on the then draft law, and asked them to carefully scrutinize it and arrange for consultations with all stakeholders to properly evaluate its possible effects.
The law requires Internet search engines, upon individual requests, to “…stop providing links to webpages that give access to information about individual distributed in violation of the law, false information about individual, as well as irrelevant information which lost its importance for the individual” (with some exceptions). The proposed penalty for non-compliance, which is currently under consideration, is a significant administrative fine.
“While adequate protection of personal data from public disclosure should be respected, I firmly believe the existing legislation in the Russian Federation is sufficient to cover the situations anticipated by the law,” Mijatović said. “The statutory requirement to delete access to online information, worded in broad and vague terms, represents a clear threat to freedom of information and goes further than already existing provisions in this area within the OSCE region.”
Mijatović also noted concerns about the matter expressed by industry and civil society organizations in the Russian Federation.
In May the Representative issued a communique on a ruling of the European Union Court of Justice related to “right to be forgotten” (see http://www.osce.org/fom/118632), in which she stressed that information and personal data related to matters of public interest should always be accessible and no restrictions or liability should be imposed on websites or intermediaries such as search engines.
The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. She provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and media freedom and promotes full compliance with OSCE media freedom commitments. Learn more at www.osce.org/fom, Twitter: @OSCE_RFoM and on www.facebook.com/osce.rfom.