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Russia’s “blogger law,” an amendment to the country’s administrative code, goes into effect today, forcing stricter guidelines onto bloggers.
Under the new law, signed in May, bloggers will have to register with the Russian government, allowing the government to restrict blogs it doesn’t approve of. Popular bloggers with more than 3,000 unique visitors daily will be considered journalists and will be subject to the same rules as other state-registered media outlets.
This means bloggers will be required to reveal their identity to state authorities. Anonymity is a prized possession for many bloggers, who use the web to decry the government.
Under the amendment, the government will be able to ask bloggers to verify information before reporting it and prevent bloggers from publishing banned content, including slander, hate speech, and profanities.
Already, a number of blogging platforms have come out against the law. Blogging giant LiveJournal, for example, has altered the number of site visitors for each of its user pages so that it never goes above 2,500. Other blogs have just stopped publishing site statistics.
The new law applies to any blogger writing in Russian for a Russian audience — regardless of location. A Russian blogger could be writing and posting content from an apartment in Turkey and would technically still have to register with the Russian government. The government will ban access to noncompliant sites and issue fines that run between just under $300 to roughly $900. Larger media outlets will have to pay heavier fines, as much as $14,285.