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date: 31 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The rapid expansion of the internet in Russia, combined with its potential to instigate a social uprising, has led to the adoption of significant regulatory restrictions on online content and anonymity. Faced with new technical challenges, the Kremlin has enlisted competent and technically capable internet actors—search engines, social networks, hosting providers, and network operators—to help implement these restrictions and control the flow of information. This chapter attempts to demonstrate the evolution of intermediary liability in Russia since 2011–12, when the government drastically changed its stance on internet regulation. It describes how this regulation is followed and enforced with respect to content removal and online surveillance, and how private companies have become an integral part of the state’s internet control apparatus. The chapter examines the legislative framework, enforcement statistics, and most prominent cases for two areas of government control: content and surveillance. ‘Content’ refers to the types of information the state seeks to restrict online, while ‘surveillance’ refers to how the state collects user data and online activity. Within both categories, this chapter focuses on the obligations of intermediaries (telecom operators, web-hosting providers, and social media platforms). This chapter further complements the findings with quotations from semi-structured interviews that were conducted with executives of telecom and web-hosting companies, telecom lawyers, internet activists, and representatives of industry associations.

Keywords: online intermediaries, Russia, private businesses, enforcement, content, surveillance

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