Russian assembly approves ‘right to be forgotten’ bill

Russia’s lower house of parliament gives initial approval to a new internet privacy law, despite protests from Yandex search engine

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The State Duma, the lower house of Russian parliament, has backed a bill which will require internet search engines to delete inaccurate, irrelevant and outdated personal information on request from users. The bill, supported by four parties, passed with one vote against and 423 in favor.

“The information distributed through the Internet does not always following the principles of urgency and authenticity and we suggest giving citizens the right to demand that search engines stop showing links that allow people get information about citizens themselves,” the explanatory note regarding the bill said.

According to the bill users will not only have the right to order the search engines to erase links to pages which have inaccurate or unlawfully published information, but also to pages that have information which is accurate but published more than three years ago and does not constitute a crime.

The search engines will have three days to comply with removal requests from users or else risk fines as high as 3 million rubles (more than $54,000). Users will also be able pursue a legal action in case a request is rejected.

Yandex, Russia’s biggest search engine, said that the bill violates the country’s constitutional right of free speech in a statement on Monday, according to the media reports.

“The bill ignores the right to search,” the company said, adding “requesting a search engine to remove hyperlinks opens the door to numerous opportunities for misuse.”

The Russian government under President Vladimir Putin has tightened its grip on the internet in recent years.

Legislation passed last year requires blogs more than 3,000 daily visitors to register with a federal body which has the power to prevent access to the “extremist” websites. Another law passed last year also made the storing Russians’ personal data on local servers in Russia mandatory.

The Russian right-to-be-forgotten bill is expected to come into effect as early as 2016.

TRTWorld and agencies