Russia Considers Forcing Bloggers to Get Journalist Accreditation

MOSCOW, February 19 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s parliament is considering legislation to force bloggers whose webpages get 10,000 views a day to get official journalist accreditation from the government, a local newspaper reported Wednesday.

The legislation is part of a package of proposed amendments to the laws and regulations that cover mass media and the Internet, including the blogosphere, the Izvestia daily said.

If the bloggers are accredited as journalists, they will be subject to the same restrictions imposed on the media by law, the newspaper said, adding that a similar requirement had already been introduced in Israel.

Blogger and media expert Edvard Chesnokov was skeptical about the legislative initiative.

“We should remember that the Internet is a decentralized network that can’t really be regulated by such measures. If you take the four most popular services – LiveJournal, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube – they are legally and physically located in the United States. I don’t see how Russian officials can tackle the technical side of this and require bloggers on these websites to register as journalists or how viewer numbers can be estimated,” he told the newspaper. “This initiative will only meet with a negative response among users.”

Izvestia reported that the amendments would be discussed by an expert council of the lower house of parliament’s information technology committee together with high-profile bloggers.

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