Parliament approves amendments to ‘right to be forgotten’ bill

RIA Novosti / Maksim Blinov
Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, has passed in a second reading a bill ordering internet search engines to delete links to information about users, but altered it so that it does not include data that is truthful and up to date.

The amendments were approved without discussion and by unanimous vote Tuesday.

The most important change was that previously the draft ordered search engines to delete any information about users upon their request but in the amended variant this applies only to information that had lost its actuality. For example, search engines must now remove links to a report about someone’s criminal conviction only if this person requests so and has served the sentence, effectively meaning that the conviction is spent. Another situation when this rule is applied is when a person was involved in a criminal probe but the statute of limitation on charges pressed against this person has expired.

Another important correction was the removal of the part of the bill that ordered search engines to remove the links to information older than three years, even if this information is correct.

The search engines will still have to remove links to false reports as well as to information that violates the law.

Other amendments give more precise definition of a search engine and also expand the period during which a search engine must fulfill the users’ demands from three to 10 days.

The restrictions still concern only the links given out by search engines and the bill did not order to delete the data itself.

The original draft, dubbed by media the right-to-be-forgotten bill, was drafted in late May. The bill was passed in a first reading in mid-June.

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The bill caused a wave of protests from internet companies and activists advocating freedom of information. Russia’s largest internet holding Yandex released an open letter in which it said that the formula of the draft was too loose and opened way to abuse. Yandex also argued that the draft violated the constitutional right to freely seek, obtain and disseminate information.

The authors of the draft said that it is in line with the most recent decisions of European legislatures and courts. In May 2014, a court in Luxembourg for the first time gave Internet users the full right to “be forgotten” and demand the deletion of links on their personal data by search engines.