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Maxim Ksenzov, Deputy head of Roskomnadzor: Internet companies will be responsible for unaccounted bloggers

July 31, 2014

Internet companies will be responsible for unaccounted bloggers

Maxim Ksenzov, Deputy Head of Roskomnadzor, has told Lenta.ru how the authority will enforce the law on bloggers

On August 1, the amendments to the law ‘On Information, Information Technologies and on Information Security’ and the other laws regulating the exchange of information with the use of information and telecommunication networks become effective.

The amendments, in particular, require from all bloggers whose web-pages are visited by three thousand and more readers per day to be registered in the special Register of Roskomnadzor. In addition, they are required to report their contact information and to meet practically all main requirements relating to mass media. Maxim Ksenzov, Deputy Head of Roskomnadzor, has told Lenta.ru in an interview how his authority will ensure the enforcement of the new law.

Lenta.ru: Mr. Ksenzov, a little more than a week has left before coming into effect of the so-called law on bloggers. The Internet pages’ owners with attendance over three thousand users a day will fall within the scope of this law. Does the Roskomnadzor have any idea now how many approximately such bloggers are there in Russia? Several thousand? Tens of thousands?

Maxim Ksenzov: We did not, and we do not set as a goal to organize a universal survey of all popular Russian-speaking Internet users. This is an unpromising occupation, and the law is not about it. The innovation of this law is that the blogger becomes a legal entity for the first time in the legal practice. The Register of bloggers provided by the law which Roskomnadzor will start keeping since August 1, is not being created to make statistical calculations, it is necessary for working communications of the law-enforcement body with legal entities - bloggers. When you communicate, for example, with business partners, you, of course, want to know whom you are dealing with, and you exchange with your vis-a-vis the minimum sets of data about each other — the business cards. In such a sense the Register is some kind of an ‘album’ for storage of ‘business cards’ of those bloggers with which the Roskomnadzor is interacting at the moment. Data on bloggers can be included in the Register and can be removed from it — for example if the blog audience during the long period does not exceed three thousand visits per day. Therefore, we do not see a special need for a provisional estimate of the number of the users who potentially fall within the scope of this law — the statistics will be created during the law-enforcement practice and will be flexible.

The law deals with the attendance of pages, instead of the number of friends in social networks. This indicator is not visible now in social networks. Is there an intention to install view counters in them? Or the Roskomnadzor will independently determine popular pages and notify their owners on this?

Really, the law operates not with the number of permanent subscribers of a personal Internet page but the category of its daily attendance. Together with Internet industry experts, representatives of the largest RuNet platforms we have developed a technique of determining the number of visits of a blog per day. We were faced two tasks. On the one hand, it was necessary to concretize the determination of the daily blog audience so that to exclude any metric ‘garbage’ and manipulations with statistics of visits through the minimum set of criteria of attendance (for example, when queries to pages are generated by robots). As a result, we have come to an agreed decision that the fact of a single address to a site page of a unique user within a day should be meant under the visit. Thus, the page has to be completely loaded to the user’s browser, and he is to stay on it not less than 15 seconds and carry out some actions. The second thing outlined in the technique is a list of sources of information and metric tools that will be applied to determine the daily audience of a blog. We have agreed with Internet community that the Roskomnadzor will request data on attendance of users’ pages from the Internet platforms themselves. The use of public services of Internet statistics or the Roskomnadzor inspection and measuring programs is also quite possible. So the tools are the most flexible.

Has the calculation system been created already? Who developed it and who will operate it?

In the last month, we met several times with the industry on the ‘counter problem’ and we came to a conclusion that, at least at initial stage the Roskomnadzor does not need to reinvent the wheel and to develop its own metric product. In the Russian market, there are enough tools which can be used to determine the attendance, including the individual pages: Openstat, Yandex, Metrics, Rating.Mail.Ru or some other counter. These services have slightly different algorithms of determining the audience, but we see the readiness of the owners of such resources to modify their functionality under the goals and methodology ‘the law on bloggers’. It is important that bloggers trust the indications of counters and are confident that these tools will not be used compulsively, for example, for marketing targeting. Then the users will have a motivation to install them on their pages — after all, active bloggers are curious to obtain objective data on the size of their audience and to trace changes. So, I do not have big doubts on the fact that there will be enough available opportunities of public Internet metrics to the Roskomnadzor for the enforcement of the ‘law on bloggers’. All controversial issues are going to be resolved within the commission of experts specially created under the Roskomnadzor. This will have to include authoritative Internet gurus, representatives of large platforms and experts. We are now agreeing on the order of forming the commission and its activities.

The owner of an Internet page will be obliged to be registered in a special Register. How difficult is this procedure?

I want to calm especially ardent top bloggers at once: On August 1 they will have no need to interrupt their vacations or to throw up important works in order to undergo the procedure of registration of their personal pages. The logic of law enforcement which we have laid in bylaws is reduced to that a user is obliged to submit his data for registration in the Register only after he has received the corresponding notification of the Roskomnadzor. That is, if you publish photos of cats in your blog, are fully cultural in expressions and do not disclose the state secret, this obligation cannot ever come in general — even if you have one million unique visits per day. In case the blogger receives a notification, he needs to fulfil the obligation directly provided by the law within 10 days that is to publish the surname, name, middle name and contact information for interaction on his page. After that the corresponding entry will be created in the Register. In this case, we have no right to say no to the ‘three-thousand blogger’ if he wants to be registered at his initiative. For this purpose the user needs to determine his daily attendance (for example, having established on his page one of the recommended counters) and to direct the request to the e-mail address 97-fz_in@rkn .gov.ru. The registered bloggers will be able to download from the site яблогер.рф/iamblogger.ru and to place in their blog the sign ‘I am a Blogger’ developed by the Russian association of electronic communications.

What measures are going to be taken to those bloggers who, according to your data, will have to be registered, but will not do it? Or to those whom you have revealed but who does not fulfil the requirements prescribed by the law?

The responsibility for failing to fulfil the requirements of this law is provided, first of all, for information distribution organizers — the Internet platforms giving the bloggers the opportunity to express themselves. Administrative responsibility in the form of penalties can be applied to them; access to them can be limited by telecom operators also in accordance with the established procedure. It does not mean that bloggers can ignore the law requirements. One can be sure that platforms will react to the increasing regulatory risks and will edit instructions for the use of the resources, having distributed the responsibility provided by the law as appropriate. The Roskomnadzor will perform systematic monitoring of the blog sphere regarding the observance of current legislation. However, all of us are basing on a belief that popular bloggers are adult, conscious, responsible people. Besides, the law does not show any supernatural, impracticable requirements to them.

What will be undertaken if the blog service does not begin to react to that his bloggers do not fulfil the law requirements? How is it possible to influence the bloggers, whose pages are placed on foreign platforms — Facebook, Twitter and others? How is it possible to influence these platforms as regards the observance of the law? After all, they do not obey the Russian legislation and should not obey.

Unfortunately, you reproduce the widespread and quite steady narrow-minded delusion that foreign Internet resources should not meet the requirements of the Russian legislation. It is not so. In the current month, we had a number of negotiations with heads of global Internet giants, and we were convinced that nobody thinks such categories at the top level of the international corporations’ management. We have established a direct dialogue with all leading players, both Russian, and foreign. The experience of implementation of other laws in the area of Internet regulation shows that it is possible to develop a transparent and clear interaction procedure with the foreign companies. The preparation for the implementation of the ‘law on bloggers’ intensified our contacts and has expanded the field of mutual opportunities. I am sure that these opportunities will be used to the full.

The issue of obscenities continues to be of interest for many people. How strictly is it supposed to fight against different hints on offensive language in the form of asterisks and against the words similar in sounding?

Unfortunately, the quantity of obscene lexicon in the blog sphere sweeps off scale. The foul language became a generality of network discussion, not the best distinctive sign of it and an indicator of low cultural level of an average Internet user. We realize that it is impossible to compulsorily clean all abusive words and bashful dots from blogs. However, the emphasized demonstration of zero level tolerance to the foul language on the part of all participants of Internet communication has to become an unconditional norm. With the advent of practice of law enforcement of the new law, we will of course discuss this problem individually, and we will develop approaches to its solution — the industry will support us in this, I am sure.

Clearly, the registered bloggers will have to indicate their contacts on the pages. To meet the law requirements they should observe also a number of requirements: not to place false information, not to talk smut … And will the bloggers have any benefits after the registration?

The fact of adoption of this law testifies: the blog sphere is today a self-sufficient, noticeable and influential phenomenon in the public life of the country. The content created by the blog sphere is demanded by mass audience. And though the spread-around statement about legal equality of bloggers and journalists is an exaggeration, the new law actually fixes the status of bloggers in the topical information agenda. I will remind you also that the law gives the bloggers a chance of legal capitalization of personal network popularity. And the bases for monetizing in the modern media environment are two things: qualitative content and trust of audience. We hope that the sign ‘I am a Blogger’ will appear on a significant amount of popular personal Internet pages and will become a peculiar ‘quality label’ for that information product which is made by top bloggers.

Marianna Kirpichevskaya

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Time of the publication: 31.07.2014 14:41
Last modified: 31.07.2014 14:43