Russian President Vladimir Putin has recently signed into law a new order requiring internet search engines to delete links that lead to false or old information relating to Russian citizens, if requested by them. The legislation mirrors a similar EU policy called the Right To Be Forgotten and marks a change in attitude towards the responsibilities of big data gatherers to rights.
Press for the Kremlin stated that “under the new federal law search engine operators must on request delete the links to pages that allow access to the internet information about private persons if spreading such information violates Russian laws, if it is false or has become outdated due to subsequent events or actions.”
This new law does not regulate information that describes criminal prosecutions where the statute of limitations have yet run and convictions that have been removed or have yet to be served.
The information systems that are conducting these searches for both government and state work and services will not fall within the regulations of this law as other web services developed for the execution of other tasks for the benefit of the society under any federal laws already in existence.
The restrictions will be placed only on links produced by search engines and the law does not require that the information actually be deleted.
If a search service refuses to delete certain links, the individual who filed the complaint can then obtain a warrant from the court.
The media has dubbed this bill as the ‘right-to-be-forgotten bill,’ which was drafted by the four caucuses of the State of Duma in May of this year. The sponsors behind this bill allege that it is in line with recent decisions made by European legislators and courts, similar to that of the 2014 Luxembourg court ruling which allowed for the very first time for internet users to “be forgotten” and request links onto personal information by search engines be deleted.
The bill was passed with an almost unanimous vote in the first reading, however, causing a wave of criticism from the media and internet professionals, promoting serious revisions in the two readings that followed.
Particularly, the Duma revised the order in regards to the deletion of links to information concerning users that is not inclusive of information that is true and current. An additional important revision was removing a portion of the bill ordering search engines to delete links to data that is three years and older, regardless of the truth of the information.
Lawmakers also expanded the timeframe that a search engine has to meet users’ requests from three to ten days.
On January 1, 2016, the right-to-be-forgotten bill will be in full force for those internet companies who do business in Russia.