Yandex Protests Russian ‘Right to Be Forgotten’ Internet Bill

Yandex NV, Russia’s biggest search engine, said a draft law that would let people demand the removal of some personal information from the Internet violates constitutional freedoms.

The bill would give people the right to have information that’s considered “unreliable” or is more than three years old struck from online search results. Search-engine operators would have three days to comply with requests or risk fines of as much as 3 million rubles ($55,000) under the proposals submitted to the State Duma, the lower house of parliament.

The legislation, which could take effect as early as 2016, violates the constitutional right to freely seek, obtain and disseminate information, Yandex said in an e-mailed statement on Monday. The proposed procedure of “requesting a search engine to remove hyperlinks opens the door to numerous opportunities for misuse, as it doesn’t require any evidence or justification,” the company said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has tightened the state’s grip on the Internet, which he has called a creation of U.S. spy agencies, amid tensions over the conflict in Ukraine. Legislation passed last year requires bloggers with more than 3,000 daily viewers to register with the federal communications watchdog, while the regulator was handed powers to block websites containing “extremist” information. A law passed last year requires companies to store Russians’ personal data on servers based inside the country starting Sept. 1.

The proposed legislation, put forward by deputies from all four parties in the Duma, is in line with the European Union’s “right to be forgotten” regulations regarding Internet companies, according to documents submitted with the draft.

The Russian bill is “much less well-thought through” than the European Court of Justice’s decision last year in the case of Google v. Gonzalez, according to Yandex. Google, Mail.ru and Rambler have also criticized the proposal which could be passed as soon as this month, Vedomosti reported last week.

“Lobbying of this law is accompanied with lies that a similar law already exists in Europe,” prominent Russian blogger and Internet entrepreneur Anton Nosik said in his blog.

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