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Rights Defenders have serious reservations about new strategy for legal regulation of Internet

14 February 2013 


Legal staff at Agora Human Rights Association have issued an analysis of the strategy on legal regulation of the Internet, published on 13 February. One of the strategy’s authors is State Duma deputy and member of the Duma Committee for Information Policy Robert Schlegel. 

Photo: Damir Gainutdinov, legal analyst & Internet expert at Agora Human Rights Association ((c)

Agora’s analysts have drawn attention to the poor drafting of the document: “A strategy for legal regulation at this level must necessarily comprise as detailed an implementation plan as possible, including benchmarks, deadlines and the allocation of roles and responsibilities to participants.”

“The document makes several references to the need to take into account overseas experience and the harmonisation of Russian law with international legislation. The question immediately arises as to exactly whose experience the authors are proposing to include and with which international legislation they propose to harmonise,” note Agora’s legal analysts.

The lawyers recall that Russia, as a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, is party to the 2009 Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Ensuring International Information Security, which defines a major threat as the dissemination of information which, "distorts the notion of the political system, the structure of society, external and internal politics, important political and social processes in government, and the spiritual, moral and cultural values of its people." They note that while the German court regards access to the internet as a basic need, V Kontakte blocks opposition groups in Belarus, and Tajikistan completely blocks access to Facebook.

Robert Shlegel. Photo: Wikipedia.

“When Deputy Shlegel speaks of including international principles and overseas experience, is it Germany or Tajikistan, the OSCE declaration or the SCO agreement that he has in mind?” they write.

In addition, Agora’s lawyers stress that the strategy contains provisions with the potential to enable totalitarian control, “if not оn the Chinese model, then оn the Belarusian”. 

You can familiarise yourself with Agora’s analysis of the new strategy for legal regulation of the Internet here. The pdf version can be downloaded here.