The State Duma postponed the discussion of the bill on news aggregators

    Source: Evgeny Razumniy / Vedomosti

    The second reading of the draft law on limiting foreign ownership in news aggregators was decided to be postponed by the deputies for a while, Vedomosti reports . In the first reading, the draft was adopted in mid-December last year; it was also included in the approximate program for February 2019. Nevertheless, the plan for adoption in the second reading in February is absent.

    According to Leonid Levin, chairman of the core committee on information policy, work on the bill is underway, but there is no consensus on revisions. “I find it difficult to say when there will be a meeting of the committee where the amendments will be considered. We are looking for wording, taking into account the fact that news aggregators cannot be equated with the media in terms of direct interpretation of the law, this requires additional study, ”the deputy added.

    Project co-author Andrei Lugovoi confirmed that the second reading was postponed. According to him, the amendments are now being discussed.

    Perhaps the delay was influenced by the decision of the constitutional court under the law on the 20% share of foreigners in the media. This was told by another deputy. In particular, he stated that the court’s decision required adjustments and clarification of the legislation. In the draft on aggregators, the norms are similar, so it would be right to first amend, as the court said, to the law on mass media.

    This is a decision made by the Constitutional Court on the complaint of the businessman Yevgeny Finkelstein in January of this year. In particular, the court found that the restriction itself is permissible, but the law lacks legal certainty. For example, there is no clarity as to whether a Russian, who has citizenship of another state, can exercise corporate rights within a 20% share of the authorized capital of a business entity.

    In addition, it is unclear what kind of society we are talking about - that is itself the founder of the media, the organization that broadcasts, or that is a member of such a broadcasting organization.

    Another source of "Vedomosti" denies the connection between the postponement of the second reading of the bill and the decision of the Constitutional Court.

    By the way, the Ministry of Justice is responsible for the execution of decisions. The ministry’s press service informed Vedomosti that in this case the Ministry of Communications and the Ministry of Justice did not enter into such a document. The representative of the Ministry of Communications and Mass Media did not answer the question about the bill.

    As for the document itself, it was developed by a whole team of deputies. They suggested that foreigners and legal entities with foreign participation could not directly or indirectly control more than 20% of the shares of news aggregators, as well as influence their management. Aggregators in the case of the adoption of the bill will give six months to bring the ownership structure in line with the new rules. Otherwise, access to them will be closed. The explanatory note stated that restrictions are required to “prevent a threat to public order”.

    According to the developers of the document, now foreigners have the opportunity to "manage the processes of disseminating information in Russia, to influence the development of democratic institutions threatening public order." The 20% limit applies to foreign media, in addition, in 2017, similar rules were introduced for owners of audiovisual Internet services.

    A new project was made a few days after it became aware of Sberbank's pressure on Yandex to increase the impact on the domestic technical corporation. Lugovoy said that there was no connection between the amendments and this event. The source "Vedomosti" in the State Duma said that the amendments are still relevant to this situation, and it could only be corrected by submitting a bill for consideration. In November, “Rain” also stated that the teams did not accept the document - they had to accept it on first reading and stop there, which happened.

    A few days ago, we also made edits to increase the size of fines several times for the draft law, which implies responsibility for distributing fake news and insulting state symbols. In these amendments, the deputies propose to fix the punishment for disseminating information to the media or the Internet, which is false and can cause harm to the lives and health of citizens, as well as adversely affect the work of various organizations.

    Initially, fines were provided in the amount of 3-5 thousand rubles. for individuals. For officials - 30-50 thousand rubles, legal - from 400 thousand to 1 million. In the new version of the bill, the size of fines increased to 30-100 thousand rubles, 60-200 thousand rubles. and 200-500 thousand rubles. accordingly (as far as it can be understood, for legal entities fines have been reduced).

    Besides,It is proposed to introduce additional fines in the amount of up to 1.5 million rubles for those cases when fake information caused problems in the operation of “life support facilities, transport or social infrastructure, communications, energy, industry, credit organizations.”

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