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News

Media Regulator Could Block Foreign Websites for Failing to Reveal Data

Russia's media watchdog has drafted a resolution that would allow it to block foreign websites in the country for failing to register with the Kremlin's monitors, a news report said.

The proposed government resolution, drafted by media regulator Roskomnadzor, would cover all websites that allow their users to exchange messages with one another, TJournal news portal reported Monday.

Under the order, Russian security services or police could request detailed data about the owners of such websites from Roskomnadzor, which would then give website owners five days to comply, the report said. A failure to meet the deadline would allow Roskomnadzor to block the website in Russia, the report said.

It was initially proposed that website owners would be required to hand over data including their full names and company names, passport information, any Russian taxpayer's number, or INN, and other details, TJournal reported. But following objections from industry leaders at a meeting Monday, Rozkomnadzor said it might narrow down the list, the report said.

The government resolution would be part of a package of measures stemming from a new law, adopted earlier this month, that requires websites with more than 3,000 visits a day to register with the Federal Mass Media Inspection Service and adhere to regulations on the mass media.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev had stoked hopes earlier this month that the state's clampdown on online media might abate, by sharply rebuking an official who had threatened to shut down Twitter in the country. In comments posted on his Facebook page, Medvedev said officials should "use their brains" before announcing the closure of social networking sites.

But users of Russian online networks said the latest draft measure — proposed for the government that Medvedev heads — slashed those hopes.

"There, an Iron Curtain has plunked on our heads," a reader commented on Ekho Moskvy news website.

"Soon the only places left in Russia for exchanging messages will be fences and public bathroom walls," another said.