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Publishing private information of Russian social network users without consent to become illegal

At the same time, users will have to verify their personal information upon registration on social media sites
Photo ITAR-TASS/ Vladimir Smirnov
Photo ITAR-TASS/ Vladimir Smirnov

MOSCOW, August 20. (Itar-Tass) – Social network users will have increased privacy rights: it will be illegal to use information regarding their private lives in public performances or in other mass media formats. Those who violate the upcoming law will have to pay a fine of up to 500,000 rubles or face up to five years in prison, Izvestia daily reports.

Liberal Democratic deputy Mikhail Degtyarev, who submitted the bill to the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, notes that “Personal data, information pertaining to private lives of social media users is often used by culprits to provoke conflict and to create media discrediting honor, dignity and business reputation of users. Moreover, it’s possible to delete someone’s data with malicious intent after gaining access to it.”

The same bill introduces mandatory verification for social network users. After registering for a social media service, users will have to prove their identity, with the exact procedure to be determined by social network operators. The memo attached to the bill suggests that popular identity verification methods include sending one-time access codes to cell phones, using an existing social media account or providing copies of official IDs.  

Those users who have verified their identity will be marked with an “identity confirmed” or "verified account" badge – its design is to be determined by website administration, the deputy added.

The bill is expected to cover only social networks whose target audience lives in Russia. Degtyarev believes that websites which satisfy  any two criteria from the following list are to be included: “the website is hosted by a Russian resident; the domain name is owned by a Russian resident; the social network has Russian advertisers; the website has different versions in foreign and Russian languages; or the social network contains information exclusively in Russian language. “ Hence most popular social networks, including Facebook, will have to conform to the law.