The Federal Law No. 208-FZ dated 23 June 2016 (the 'Law') amended the Federal Law 'On Information, Information Technologies and Protection of Information' (the 'Information Law') and the Code of the Russian Federation On Administrative Offences (the 'Administrative Code') to provide for the duties of owners of news aggregators with respect to the storage and dissemination of information and liability for violation thereof.

A news aggregator is for the first time defined in the Information Law as:

  • a software, website and/or web page in the Internet used for the processing and dissemination of news in the Internet in the state language of the Russian Federation (Russia), state languages of the republics within the Russian Federation or other languages of Russia's nations,
  • in which advertising can be distributed that is aimed at attracting the attention of consumers in the territory of the Russian Federation, and
  • access to which during a day exceeds 1 million Internet users.

The Law expressly provides that an owner of a news aggregator can only be a Russian legal entity or a citizen of the Russian Federation. Owners of news aggregators shall be obliged, in particular:

1. to prevent from using the news aggregator for committing a criminal offense, disclosure of information treated as a state or other secret protected by law, distribution of materials containing public calls to terrorist acts or publicly justifying the terrorism, distribution of other extremist materials, pornography promoting materials, cult of violence and cruelty, as well as materials containing foul language;

2. to verify the reliability of information of public significance before dissemination thereof and to immediately cease such dissemination on the basis of instruction of the federal executive authority performing the control and supervision functions in the area of mass media, mass communications, information technologies and communications (Roskomnadzor);

3. to prevent from using a news aggregator for concealment or falsification of information of public significance, dissemination of false news information of public significance under the guise of veracious news, as well as dissemination of information in violation of the Russian legislation;

4. to prevent the dissemination of news for the purpose of discrediting a citizen or individual categories of citizens on grounds of sex, age, race, nationality, language, attitude to religion, occupation, place of residence and work, political beliefs, as well as news about the private life of a citizen in violation of the civil law;

5. to place at the news aggregator the e-mail addresses for legally significant messages as well as the full names of the owners;

6. to store the news disseminated by the news aggregator, information about the news source, as well as information about the terms of its dissemination within 6 months, and to provide an access to such information for Roskomnadzor.

Roskomnadzorshall establish the procedures for functioning of the system of interaction between a news aggregator owner as well as maintain the register of news aggregators (the 'Register') and to this end it shall:

  • organize monitoring of information resources;
  • approve the methodology for determination a number of users of information resources per a day;
  • have the right to request from the news aggregator owner and other persons the information required to maintain the Register, and the relevant persons shall be obliged to provide the requested information within 10 days from the date of the request.

In case of detection in the information and telecommunications networks, including Internet, of information resource that corresponds to the criteria of a news aggregator, including on the basis of appeals from state authorities, local self-government, citizens or organizations, Roskomnadzor shall:

  • recognize the information source as a news aggregator and include it in the Register;
  • define a hosting provider or other person providing the news aggregator placement on the Internet ('placing person');
  • send to a hosting provider or placing person a notice in electronic form in the Russian and English languages with the requirement to provide data to identify the news aggregator owner.

In the event the fact of falsification of information of public significance, dissemination of false information of public significance under the guise of veracious news, as well as the dissemination of news information in violation of the law at a news aggregator is detected, state authorities may apply to Roskomnadzor via its official website with the request to take measures to stop the dissemination of such information, with the enclosure of the relevant court decision or decision of the state authority.

Within 24 hours of the receipt of the request and documents enclosed, Roskomnadzor shall consider them and send an instruction to the news aggregator owner to immediately cease the dissemination of the relevant information.

The news is the publicly available information received from the media registered in accordance with the Federal Law No. 2124-1 'On Mass Media' dated 27 December 1991, as well as from other sources.

The Administrative Code is supplemented, in particular, with Article 13.32., which provides for the administrative liability for a failure by a news aggregator owner to store within 6 months the disseminated news, information about the source of the news, information on the term of dissemination and/or to provide an access for Roskomnadzor to such information: an administrative fine on individuals in the amount of up to 5,000 roubles; on officials - up to 50 thousand roubles; on legal entities - up to 500 thousand roubles.

A failure by a news aggregator owner to comply with Roskomnadzor's instructions, according to the new Article 19.7.10-1 of the Administrative Code, shall involve an administrative fine on individuals in the amount of 100 thousand roubles; on officials - up to 400 thousand roubles; on legal entities - up to 1 million roubles, and in case of the repeated administrative offense: on individuals - in the amount of 300 thousand roubles; on officials - up to 700 thousand roubles; on legal entities - up to 3 million roubles.

News aggregators owners shall be also subject to the liability under Article 19.7.10 of the Administrative Code for a failure to submit or late submission to Roskomnadzor of the information that allows identifying the owner of a news aggregator, or for the submission of deliberately false information - in the form of an administrative fine on individuals in the amount of up to 30 thousand roubles; on legal entities - up to 300 thousand roubles.

The Law becomes effective from 1 January 2017.

In the transitional period before the entry into force of the Law, the owners of news aggregators may consider, in particular, providing for additional technical capacities to store the news disseminated, information on the source of such information and the term of its dissemination within the specified period.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.