A new Russian law, adopted by the Duma on Tuesday, is placing serious restrictions on the nation's bloggers. Any online writer with more than 3,000 visitors a day is required to declare their family name, initials and email address, and is then officially considered an "internet user called blogger." Once registered, they are subject to the same regulations as the mass media, including provisions against libel, pornography, and obscene language. An initial violation will result in a fine; second violations will result in a website being suspended for a month.
While the restrictions are severe, the law is also surprisingly easy to circumvent, since it does not apply to blogs hosted overseas. Many critics also believe the law may be struck down by Russia's constitutional court as a violation of the country's provisions for free speech. Already, the law has drawn criticism from human rights advocates. "The real purpose of the bill is to prevent any criticism of the authorities," one critic told the ITAR-TASS news agency.