Russia’s efforts to get a better grasp on the Internet have reached a new level today, as the new law requiring Russian bloggers to register as media entities goes into force. Now, individuals who like to blog need to have the same standards as actual media organizations.
The law was signed by Vladimir Putin back in May and has attracted quite a bit of criticism from all corners of the world. Those affected by it are bloggers that attract more than 3,000 unique visitors per day, RT reports.
Starting today, all blogs that are covered by the new law need to register with the authorities. This means that any blog written in Russian and targeting Russian audiences needs to respect the law, regardless of their actual physical location.
The amendments to the Administrative Code, the Law of Information and the Law on Communications, also known as the “Bill on Bloggers,” don’t just inconvenience people by forcing them to register with the authorities, but also by the fact that they’ll have to start acting like proper media organizations.
This means authors will have to verify information before publishing it and to abstain from posting things that can be seen as slander, hate speech, extremist calls, or other banned information. To sum it up, this is the actual part that the government wants to focus on, namely controlling not only what the media can say, but also what bloggers talk about.
Individuals who violate the law can be fined with between 10,000 and 30,000 rubles (US$285-$855 / €212-€637), while for larger popular blogs maintained by legal entities things can be a lot nastier, with fines of up to 500,000 rubles ($14,285 / €10,643).
It’s not just bloggers who are concerned by the move, but also Internet corporations that have taken measures to give a helping hand to those who need it.
Yandex, the country’s equivalent to Google, has stopped publishing statistics on blog views, while LiveJournal, one of the most popular blogging platforms in the world, has altered the way readers’ statistics look, so it displays a top figure of “2500+.”
Alas, the state officials weren’t really going to rely on outside tools to measure just how popular bloggers were. In fact, the country’s regulators have already prepared a list of six people who can be considered “popular bloggers.” These are Mikhail Glustyan (comedian and actor), Sergey Dolya (photographer), Dmitry Chernyshev (writer), Eduard Limonov (leftist politician) and Boris Akunin (liberal blogger). 83 more bloggers may join the list.