New Russian Law Requires Search Engines to Remove Pirate Links in Six Hours

By Bill Toulas / September 4, 2019

A new Russian law requires that search engines remove reported links to pirate content within six hours max. Engines like Google, which maintains their presence in the strictly regulated Russian internet, will be expected to comply with this new requirement immediately. The same applies to the "local" Yandex as well. Already, Yandex and Google were obliged to remove any links to copyright-infringing content, and they did so in a matter of hours. However, this new law amendment defines a very specific time period during which the search engines should respond.

The links to pirated content will be added to the FGIS database, which is the official domain blacklist in the country. As local news outlets report, the new amendments cover the sharing of the links via email. This means that the Mail.ru service is expected to detect if their users share forbidden/blacklisted links and filter them out. As for the search engines, they are expected to query their indexes against the FGIS database every five minutes. The subsequent moderation will come through an automated and streamlined system, so we practically have an almost direct censorship action that is coming from the copyright holders.

The new laws are the result of pressure from media groups piling up, as the copyright holders weren’t satisfied by how the existing domain blocking system worked. Previously, the links that were added onto the FGIS were blocked by the search engines, but they still appeared on the results for an extended period of time. For insistent pirates who kept on searching, new links popped up, and the damage to legit broadcasters and streaming services continued to be incurred. With the new law, the copyright holders will report and ban whole domain subsets, so any new links that pop up will never find their way into the Google or Yandex index.

According to the reports, these entities have been trying to push the new amendments for months now, and this is the result of their lobbying. Now, the proposals will be sent to the presidential administration, and from there to the Information Policy Committee of the State Duma (lower house). Judging from what has been going on so far in Russia, these laws are most probably going to pass. If you live in Russia, don’t forget to check out our most updated list with the best VPN solutions to use there right now.

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