Support independent journalism in Central & Eastern Europe.
Donate to TOL!

× Learn more
No, thanks Photo: Abbas Atilay
 
back  |  printBookmark and Share

Tightening the RuNet Screws

Russian lawmakers want to ban kids from social media, require ‘real name’ registration. From Global Voices. 

by Kevin Rothrock 6 April 2017

Newly proposed legislation in Russia would ban children under the age of 14 from creating accounts on social media and require adults to use their real names, verified with passport information, when registering with any social media platform.

 

This would mark a significant departure from current practice across the RuNet, and on Russia's most popular social media platform, VKontakte, where users are not required to register with their real names.

 

The Leningrad Oblast legislative assembly, which represents the greater St. Petersburg area, is reportedly planning to submit the legislation to Russia’s federal parliament, the Duma. As the law is currently written, violators would face administrative fines as high as 300,000 rubles ($5,350).

 

Though it’s unclear how officials would enforce the policy, particularly when it comes to foreign-owned social media platforms, the legislation is designed to apply to Russian citizens and foreigners living on Russian soil, according to the newspaper Izvestia.

 

The draft legislation would allow minors between the ages of 14 and 17 to register accounts on social networks, but it would restrict them from joining groups and communities that share content that cannot legally be distributed among children, including “occult-magical” subjects, information about “smoking mixtures,” and so-called “gay propaganda.”

 

Students in a Moscow park. Image via Evgeniy Isaev/Flickr.

 

The law also would double down on a pre-existing rule that bans Internet users from sharing information about “unsanctioned” public demonstrations, by explicitly criminalizing this type of sharing. And it would make it illegal to publish correspondence with another social media user without that individual’s consent, a measure perhaps inspired by recent political scandals involving leaked communications between public figures.

 

If passed, the law would take effect at the beginning of 2018.

 

Countries around the world — from Jordan to South Korea to Zambia — have implemented similar so-called “real name” registration requirements for both online platforms and mobile SIM cards, with varying degrees of efficacy. In all these cases, lawmakers have argued that the practice will help law enforcement better detect criminal activity online. But collecting this information also increases the abilities of government entities to monitor the activities of all Internet users, regardless of whether they've engaged in criminal activity. The storage of this type of data can also create challenges. South Korea rolled back the requirement after tens of millions of Internet users’ personal data was leaked in a massive hack of state-administrated servers in 2011.

 

“Nobody is trying to introduce censorship or restrict free speech,” Vladimir Petrov, a deputy in the Leningrad Oblast legislative assembly, told Izvestia. “Verification and strict control over the authenticity of [users’] names will only increase the value of virtual communication and one’s own opinions.”

 

“The less irresponsible anonymity, the better,” said Vitaly Milonov, a State Duma deputy infamous for pioneering anti-LGBT laws in Russia. “You can’t surrender this sphere to the pedophiles, terrorists, and criminals.”

 

Milonov told Izvestia that if the legislation is submitted to the Duma, it would have a good chance of being approved.

This article by Kevin Rothrock originally appeared on the citizen journalism site Global Voices, and is republished under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 3.0 International license.

back  |  printBookmark and Share

TOL PROMOTION

Announcement

 


TOL's Summer Journalism Courses in Prague - Last places available!

 

July 2017- Data Journalism Boot Camp course and Going on Assignment in Prague - Special edition of Foreign Correspondent course

 


 

Practical training by respected journalists and media professionals. See TOL Education website  for more information.


MULTIMEDIA PROJECTS

Moldovan diaries

The Moldovan Diaries is a multimedia, interactive examination of the country's ethnic, religious, social and political identities by Paolo Paterlini and Cesare De Giglio.

This innovative approach to story telling gives voice to ordinary people and takes the reader on the virtual trip across Moldovan rural and urban landscapes. 

It is a unique and intimate map of the nation.

RELATED ARTICLES

© Transitions Online 2017. All rights reserved. ISSN 1214-1615
Published by Transitions o.s., Baranova 33, 130 00 Prague 3, Czech Republic.