Internet law ‘right to be forgotten’ passed in Russia

Russian lawmakers passed a bill allowing people to force Internet search engines to remove links to data about them, overriding objections from the country’s largest search provider.
The legislation - broader than the European Union’s ‘right to be forgotten’ initiative - was passed by overwhelming majority in Russia’s Kremlin-loyal parliament. President Vladimir Putin still needs to sign the law for it to come into effect. The proposed legislation could be implemented as early as January next year.
The bill allows people to force Internet search engines to remove links to data they claim is inaccurate, outdated or published unlawfully, and has sparked fears that it could be used to delete information critical of the authorities. An earlier version of the bill was tweaked after opposition from Russia’s main search engine Yandex, but the company said it still had major objections to the final version of the law.
‘Our attempts to introduce some crucial amendments to this bill have unfortunately been unsuccessful,’ Yandex said in a statement. ‘Our point has always been that a search engine cannot take on the role of a regulatory body and act as a court or law enforcement agency,’ it said. ‘We believe that information control should not limit access to information that serves the public interest. The private interest and the public interest should exist in balance,’ the firm said. The bill was rushed through parliament after being submitted on May 29. Its authors are a cross-party group of MPs. The text requires search engines to serve as a monitoring body.
They would have 10 days to decide whether to delete the information, according to the text of the law. Refusal to delete the information would empower the complainant to take them to court. There is no mention of a penalty for non-compliance. Russia’s bill comes after a series of rulings around the world on what search engines can tell users, raising concerns over the potential for censorship.
Under the EU’s ‘right to be forgotten,’ citizens have the right to require search engines to erase results involving them under certain conditions. The move has been opposed by Internet giants like Google, with critics arguing it would be copied by autocratic regimes around the globe who want to censor the Internet.

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