Many foreign Internet companies ignore the decisions of Russian courts and state bodies, referring to the fact that they work under the laws of the countries in which they are registered. Officials came up with how to solve this problem, as the employees of several Internet companies, telecom operators, officials of two departments and a person familiar with the staff of the presidential administration told Vedomosti. According to them, in the spring legislation can be amended, allowing by the court's decision to slow access to websites of the violators of Russian legislation. And this norm will apply not only to foreigners.
Among the drafters of the bill is the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS), one of Vedomosti's interlocutors says. This was confirmed by a person close to the FAS, who added that Roskomnadzor and other agencies had participated in the drafting. According to him, the initiative is at the final stage of coordination, including in the presidential administration. The probability of introducing such a regulation is very high, says a person who knows about this project from the administration staff.
Another person close to the administration heard about the idea: he believes that it is difficult to implement and is unlikely to be accepted in the current form. According to him, it is easier to increase the penalties for violators multiple times than to introduce such a technically complex task. President's press secretary Dmitry Peskov does not know about such an initiative. The State Duma hasn't yet seen that draft law, says a representative of the Information Policy Committee. The presidential aide, Igor Schegolev, who oversees communications and the Internet, did not answer the calls.
The idea was born during the discussion of the FAS case against Google, several Vedomosti interlocutors say.
The FAS in late 2015, found Google a violator of the law on the protection of competition: the company prohibited the manufacturers of Android-based mobile devices to pre-install applications of competitors, one of which, Yandex, complained to the FAS. The service fined Google for 438 million rubles. And ordered the removal of violations, but Google did not comply. The FAS management made several harsh statements against the company: for example, threatened its top managers with a prison term. And recently the head of the agency Igor Artemiev said that he could apply other measures to Google: "No state will agree that the decisions of its courts are not fulfilled. Therefore, Google can expect a lot of interesting things." However, the FAS recently said that it was preparing to conclude an amicable agreement with Google.
This type of regulation has the right to exist and is not directly related to the FAS case against Google, says a person close to the State Duma: "There are a number of foreign Internet companies that make money in Russia but do not comply with our laws. This is a kind of civilized compulsion to dialogue."
Facebook and Twitter refused to remove illegal content on court decisions, Roskomnadzor achieved the eternal blocking in Russia of the social network LinkedIn: the court found it to be a violator of the law on personal data, but the company refused to eliminate violations. However, it is not advisable to close access to large resources, especially during the pre-election period, so it was decided to resort to such a measure as lowering the speed of communication, says a person familiar with the staff of the presidential administration.
Operators are not enthusiastic about the initiative, notes the employee of one of them: the users will blame the communication company for the slowdown in access to YouTube or Facebook.
The top manager of Yandex heard about such an initiative and assures that the company has nothing to do with it. "The consequence of the adoption of such a law could be a violation of the network neutrality, which will affect all resources, including us," he explains. According to him, Yandex is involved in the development of other amendments that would oblige manufacturers of mobile devices and operating systems to give the user a "window of choice" of services (search, browser, maps, etc.) when the device is first turned on. Several officials and employees of Internet companies know about the preparation of such amendments. Amendments to lowering the speed of the Internet and the "window of choice" can be included in one package and are likely to be submitted to the Duma in the spring, says a member of a large telecom operator. Together with them, perhaps, will be the amendments initiated by the working group led by Schegolev concerning the regulation of "large user data".
This is a bad idea and, most importantly, difficult to accomplish, says the top manager of a large Internet holding company. Nevertheless, officials are now very actively discussing this idea, he knows. Technically, it is much more difficult to implement than banning, especially for fixed-line operators, who have a huge decentralized network, says a member of the relevant department. Mobile operators are easier to do this because they already have deep-packet inspection (DPI) systems: they allow the users to access part of the site by blocking or slowing down access to others. But, for example, Rostelecom has no single DPI for the entire network, and its installation will require investments worth hundreds of millions of dollars, informed the interlocutor of Vedomosti.
The representatives of the FAS, Ministry of Communications, Roskomnadzor, Vimpelkom, MTS, Rostelekom, Mail.ru Group, Yandex and Google declined to comment.