How to block sites in Russia

In the Russian Federation, at the state level, there is a system for recognizing information and data on the Internet that is prohibited for distribution. The prohibition of the dissemination of information is expressed in the form of blocking sites that host such information. In this article, we will consider some features of blocking sites in Russia.
BLOCKING SITES
Blocking sites in Russia carries out and controls Roskomnadzor. Roskomnadzor is a division of the Ministry of Communications of Russia that oversees information on the Internet. The powers of Roskomnadzor include the blocking of sites, ip-addresses, networks and applications on the Internet, as well as interaction with Internet and communication providers.
Roskomnadzor is the executor of decisions of courts and decisions of state bodies of Russia to restrict access to prohibited information. Owners of Internet resources, applications and domain administrators bear the risks associated with blocking sites and entering domains and ip-addresses into the Unified Register of Banned Sites. In Russia, blocking sites is often associated with violation of the law by both the courts and site owners.
Based on the analysis of the content of blocked sites, it can be concluded that the blocking can touch any Internet resource. So in Russia, the largest Internet resources are blocked or partially blocked, including YouTube.com, LinkedIn.com, Amazon WS, IM Telegram and others.
Roskomnadzor will block the site on the Internet if it contains information:

  • about the sale of drugs;
  • about the sale of drugs and veterinary drugs;
  • about the sale of alcohol;
  • distributes extremist materials;
  • on the sale of potent drugs and sports nutrition preparations;
  • distribution of pornography;
  • selling weapons;
  • sale of sanctions products;
  • prostitution announcements;
  • sale of CTP policies;
  • sale of diplomas and identity documents;
  • sale of professional fishing nets and other prohibited for circulation fishing gear;
  • sale of sim-cards without a contract with the subscriber, without identification of the subscriber, without official registration;
  • sale of neodymium magnets for the purpose of using them for unlawful interference with the operation of utilities metering devices — their stopping or slowing down;
  • advertising gambling;
  • infringement of copyright and related rights.

The list of content sites subject to blocking is not exhaustive. Any information and any content may be considered prohibited for distribution on the territory of Russia. Any article or blog post may be banned in Russia, even if they do not actually violate the law. The judicial, legislative and law enforcement system is working to expand the grounds for blocking websites and improving the tools used in this process. The authorities of the Russian Federation are working to create a system of blocking websites without a court decision and consistently empower the federal services to restrict access to sites. For example, the Ministry of Health and the Federal Antimonopoly Service have the right to block sites without court decisions.
Site blocking by copyright holder’s request
A separate category is to allocate the blocking of sites on demand of trademark owners, brand owners and authors of works. Roskomnadzor blocks sites, but the service cannot be used by right holders to block sites without a court decision. To restrict access to sites, right holders can use pre-trial and judicial mechanisms that do not guarantee 100% blocking of the site due to the nature of the Internet and the legal protection of the protected intellectual property. In most cases, content owners apply to the Moscow City Court, which has the right to impose pre-trial restrictive measures on sites.
Features of the lawsuit on claims about blocking sites on the Internet
The reason for blocking the site is a court decision.
In 86% of cases, the decision to block the site is made by the court on the basis of the claim filed by the prosecutor’s office.
Cases related to the restriction of access to information are considered by the courts of general jurisdiction in a fairly short period of time (1 month), compared with the average time taken to try cases by the courts. The main initiator of the proceedings is the prosecution authorities, which, by examining the pages on the Internet for search queries, determine what information they think should be banned in Russia. In cases of blocking sites, the courts avoid involving site owners (domains) in litigation. Almost all decisions on these cases satisfy the requirements of the prosecutor’s office and recognize the information declared by the prosecutor’s office as prohibited in Russia. In addition, due to the problems of sharing data and information between the courts, cases of repeated or repeated recognition of information prohibited in Russia are common. The site may be blocked by several decisions of courts located in different regions and on different dates. After the court decision enters into force, the court, the prosecutor’s office or the FSSP direct the decision to Roskomnadzor for execution. The site owner has legal rights to challenge the court decision, but many owners of blocked sites are deprived of this opportunity, in view of the expiration of the procedural deadlines for appealing the court decision or the lack of information about the court decision. Thus, the site owner learns about blocking their resource from users, the hosting provider, or because of the unavailability of the site on the Internet.
In order to obtain a court decision on blocking the site, the owner must apply to the court that made the decision with the request to issue a copy of the decision. Unfortunately, the courts rarely publish decision texts on their sites. If the petition for issuing a copy of the court decision is unconvincing or with errors, the court has the right to refuse its satisfaction.
The decision on the inclusion in the register of prohibited sites can be appealed:

  • site owner;
  • domain administrator;
  • hosting provider;
  • carrier.

It is possible to appeal the decision of the court to block the site within three months from the date of its adoption in a higher court. In practice, the only interested person in solving the problem is the owner of the site or domain. The position of telecom operators and hosting providers is reduced to notifying and blocking a banned site, according to a developed script, which greatly reduces the possibility of solving a problem without blocking the site.
ROSKOMNADZOR
The work of Roskomnadzor when blocking the site
After the court makes a decision and enters into legal force, the judicial authorities send the decision for execution to Roskomnadzor, i.e. on the implementation of blocking the site.
The site blocking process is defined by the Federal Law of July 27, 2006 No. 149-ФЗ “On Information, Information Technologies and Protection of Information” as well as by the regulations and decrees of the Government of the Russian Federation.
After the Roskomnadzor makes a court decision, Roskomnadzor determines the hosting provider for the domain name on which the prohibited information is located and sends a notice to the provider that the site has been blocked.
PAY ATTENTION: Roskomnadzor does not provide the texts of the decisions of the courts, but indicates only the date, number of the case and the name of the court that made the decision.
According to the law, within a day from the moment of receiving the notification from Roskomnadzor, the hosting provider must inform the site owner about the need to immediately remove information that is not allowed to be distributed in the Russian Federation.
Further, the site owner within a day from the moment of receiving from the hosting provider a notification about the inclusion of a domain name (or link) in the registry, is obliged to take measures to remove prohibited information and / or restrict access to the prohibited site.
In case of refusal or inaction of the owner of the banned site, the hosting provider is obliged to limit access to such a site during the day.
In case of failure of the hosting provider (or) owner of the site to restrict access, Roskomnadzor will add the prohibited site, its IP address to the registry, on this basis access to the site by telecom operators (Internet providers, telecom providers) will be limited.
The site owner may send a notice to Roskomnadzor about the removal of prohibited information.
The current address for sending notifications: zapret-info@rkn.gov.ru
After the Roskomnadzor confirms the removal of prohibited information, information regarding the domain name, website and IP address is excluded from the Unified Registry of Banned Sites.
IMPORTANT
Roskomnadzor may consider the appeal of the site owner about the removal of prohibited information from one to thirty days;
Roskomnadzor checks sites after removing prohibited information;
If the site is entered in the registry of prohibited, then it has in the registry two status «Access restricted» and «Access is not limited.» These statuses are technical in nature and are associated with restricting access to a prohibited site through providers and telecom operators.
Access to the site is limited to the «fan» method throughout Russia, depending on the Internet provider and the location of the end users.
Traffic filtering systems can block access to sites and domains located on the same IP address with a blocked site.
If you have questions about blocking sites or need the help of professionals, contact our company.
If your site is blocked, find out how to remove the site from the Roskomnadzor registry in this article.


Grigoriy Belotserkovets