Medvedev saves internet providers from deputies

March 17, 2008, Mon 4:49 PM  Internet  Integration

Amendments will be made to the draft law on strategic sectors. A source in the State Duma reports that the newly elected Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has disapproved of the intension to include internet providers into the list of strategic companies. Leonid Reiman, RF Minister of IT and communications, warned earlier that introducing investment restrictions in telecommunications might result in the internet drain away from Russia.

Several amendments will be made to the draft law On internet investment into economic societies of strategic importance for Russian national security before the second reading (planned to be held on March 19th). Thus the requirement to restrict foreign companies' free access to invest into the Russian internet providers has been eliminated, says Martin Shakkum, chairman of a special-purpose committee on construction and land relations at the RF State Duma, reports the Vremya Novostey newspaper. The newspapers source close to the State Duma management assures the regulation was canceled after the interference of the newly appointed Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

It should be noted that the information about amendments to the draft law to consider the activity of internet providers strategically important appeared early in March. Foreigners wishing to acquire more than 50% in such enterprises were initially to ask for corresponding approval from Russian authorities. In case the authorities of a foreign state are shareholders of a foreign company, it was allowed to acquire only a 25% in a Russian company. The draft law also says that foreign companies owning more than 10% in strategically important companies should inform the government committee about it in half a year.

The RF Ministry of IT and Communications has strongly criticized the given amendments. Alexander Maslov, deputy minister on IT and Communications, said that telecommunications was successfully developing under free investment, the Russian national security not being damaged. We are going to cooperate with the presidential administration to define such terms that make it possible to meet the requirement stated in the draft law and reduce the negative effect on the market, - said Leonid Reiman, RF Minister of IT and Communications. He believes the new version of the law regulating the internet does not provide additional protection of the state interests. I consider there is no sense in the restrictions, - points out Leonid Reiman. That might result in the internet drain away from Russia. Experts and market participants also warn that such a law adoption might cause unpredictable consequences.

According to a source in the State Duma, Dmitry Medvedev does not approve of the amendments restricting foreign companies' investment into the Russian internet providers
According to a source in the State Duma, Dmitry Medvedev does not approve of the amendments restricting foreign companies' investment into the Russian internet providers

According to the source of Vremya Novostey in the RF State Duma, Dmitry Medvedevs disapproval of the internet regulations was brought to notice of the State Dumas management. Martin Shakkum reports that the internet is sure to be excluded from the draft law. At the same time, Mr. Shakkum says Mr. Medvedev said nothing to him in person, also he might be of the same opinion.

Practically simultaneously with the information about amendments to the draft law on foreign investment regarding internet providers, it was reported about the General Prosecutors Office of Russia to advocate for imposition of providers liability for distribution of extremist materials in the intern. We have got a paradox: there is a range of companies providing the internet and being absolutely not liable for the content of websites, - says Aleksey Zhafyarov, deputy head of Directorate to supervise enforcement of laws on federal security, interethnic relations and countering extremism at the RF General Prosecutors Office, ITAR-TASS reports. He says all that is unacceptable in terms of public morality, public security and antiextremism legislation should be enshrined in law.

It is not always possible to determine the author of the information published in the internet reports Mr. Zhafyarov. So we consider it improper to make liable only authors and distributors, - he says. Those providing the internet and its maintenance should also be found liable. Mr. Zhafyarov believes that there is not need in total control over the interne. However, any freedom implies responsibility on behalf of those enjoying it.

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