Internet regulations and users' righs in the
Key words:Internet access, privacy and security, security, surveillance,
transparency, freedom of expression, users’ rights, Internet laws and regulations, multistakeholder engagement, government-users conflict, civil society, Runet.
My research goalis to investigate the decision-making processes of internet
regulations in Russian government; evaluate the effects of Internet regulation initiatives on Russian internet users, suggest ways to resolve Government-Users’ communication conflict in the
Runet, suggest a more efficient model of multistakeholder engagement to establish a successful dialogue between government, corporations, NGOs, media and users.
State of the problem:
Russia is currently going through
a period of rapidly-changing and largely restrictive Internet policies, influenced by an increasingly authoritarian political context. Internet laws and regulations issued in the period of
defining“blacklisted” websites in
Runet;The Child Protection
Law;two amendmentsto theAnti-Piracy Law; Anti-extremism law, Law on
bloggers and others) were enacted without discussion, and many ways damage public and corporate interests, paralyzing the work of local IT sector.
As our previous research have
shown (“Global Internet Policy Project” with Internews (2013); “Ranking Digital Rights” project with New America Foundation (2013-2014); “Fostering Freedom Online” Internet Intermediaries
research for UNESCO (2014); Russian companies, users and Internet associations are challenged to comply with rapidly-changing legal standards. Today’s Runet players are very limited
in their options aimed at affecting the rules of the game. In most cases they have no alternative as to comply with government demands, wondering whether the governmental road map for Internet
regulations will eventually lead to Runet shutdown.
Users’ rights are of little
concern in an environment dominated by governmental restrictive policies and corporate goals to quickly ‘monetize ’their Internet services.
Transparency of communication
with users on many important issues, including corporate agreements with government, is dramatically lacking.
Instead of being hidden, these
issues should be highlighted, in order to engage the Russian public and internet users in the dialogue with government and create a more efficient model of multi-stakeholder engagement in
decision making on Internet policies and regulations.
In fact Russia has a very short
practice of applying Human Rights standards to Internet regulations. It is absolutely clear that today both the Russian government and Russian Internet corporations need more education and
knowledge on how the basic principles of human rights can be applied to the Internet space. The government needs to be educated and informed about specific technical issues on how the Internet
operates while Internet companies need to be educated on International human rights standards and principles, as well as users’ rights. Learning from the best examples of international practice
can facilitate this conversation. The international community can encourage Internet corporations to be more open and accessible to their customers, to develop interaction mechanisms with their
users and to consider users’ interests and suggestions with regard to corporate and governmental policy.
To achieve better understanding
of each others’ interests and needs, an open dialogue between government, users, Internet corporations & associations should be established. Clear mechanisms, principles and procedures of
public-corporate-government communication should be developed. These efforts should be aimed at creating better standards with regards to privacy, security, and surveillance
The integration of Russian
Government representatives, scholars, NGOs representing the public interest and Internet companies in international discussions and collaborations on human rights should become a
disclosure of relevant information and users’ education of on the rights and freedoms and International Internet policies and Human Rights standards can help Russian Internet stakeholders in
making the Internet a better space of free expression, open opportunities and mutual respect.
·Monitoring and analysis of governmental initiatives and
reactions to it in Runet.
·Case study of online
communicationin Runet as reactions to certain Internet regulation
·Surveys with Internet usersand Internet companiesto gain an overview of their understanding of users’
rights, perceptions of governmental initiatives and decision making processes, perspectives on users’ rights and suggestions for establishing effective communication mechanisms with the
government,promotingusers’ engagement in decision making
·Interviews with governmental representatives and decision
makersto investigate government decision making processes, their
knowledge and perceptions of the Internet and users in Runet
·Evaluation of government decision making
processesusing decision making evaluation model, which will be
designed in the course of this research.
·Interviews with Stakeholders, Russian NGOs, and Internet associations to develop
recommendations on establishing a dialogue between the Government, Corporations and Users.
·Research will describe the current state of government
–users dialogue in Runet (highlighting major conflict points) and follow the chronology of recent governmental initiatives on Internet regulations in Russia
·Research will help to better understand the Russian
government’s Internet initiatives and their decision-making mechanisms and processes.
·Will investigate major problems and challenges in
communications between the government, stakeholders and Internet users in Runet.
·Will highlight existing opportunities for establishing
government-Internet users’ dialogue, suggesting starting points and promoting free communication in Runet.
·Research will overview the dynamics of the development
of Russian Internet law from a global perspective and highlight Russia-specific trends in it.
·A comparison of US and Russian Internet policies and
legal standards will be performed. Similarities and differences in major problems and challenges of Internet regulations will be described. Opportunities for transferring better international
regulatory practices will be suggested.
·Research will provide objective feedback to the Russian
government, corporations and citizens concerning the current state of Internet regulations and users’ rights in Runet; will highlight major points of disagreement and reasons of
·Research will provide information to Russian and global
Internet users on how governmental decisions on Internet regulation initiatives are made, what are the mechanisms and procedures of this process, and what are the determinants for these
·Research will suggest solutions for developing government –
citizen dialogue and ways to engage other stakeholders in that dialogue in current Internet environment.
·Research will provide recommendations for developing
mechanisms, policies and practices for representing users’ rights in Runet.
·The project will engage key stakeholders (Internet
associations, Internet market players, NGOs and human rights organizations) in communications on promoting and developing users’ rights in Russia through:
-Offering education and consulting opportunities,
based on best global practices of Internet regulations for the Russian government;
-Elaborating mechanisms and procedures for assessments of
government decisions and providing feedback on governmental initiatives from users;
-Initiating and facilitating government –users dialogue in
-Organizing conferences, round tables and discussions on
government-users dialogue and users’ rights in Runet;
·A web site and a blog will be developed to highlight the
projects’ main steps and report about research progress.
·Upon the submission of this project, a research report will
be issued, articles and scientific papers will be published.
·A number of events (discussions and conferences) devoted to
Internet law and governance in Russia and the US will be organized.
·Recommendations for Russian law makers describing best
world practices of multistakeholder engagement models will be developed.
Project terms:September 2014 – September 2015.
benefit:Civil society, Internet users, Internet companies and associations, media, NGOs, human
rights organizations, bloggers and activists, Russian citizens, local authorities & government, International experts and researchers.