Conflicts of rights in the regulation of online platforms in Russia

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Author: Andrey Shcherbovich

Keywords: conflict of rights; digital aquarium; jurisdiction; platform regulation; Russia; sovereignty; user agreements

DOI: 10.21128/1812-7126-2021-6-106-122


In this article, we will look at several legal conflicts arising from the regulation of online platforms in Russia. Legal conflicts can be understood as the difference between the legal nature of a phenomenon and the practice of its legal regulation. One legal conflict arises in relation to different jurisdictions if the platform is registered in a foreign jurisdiction. A second conflict reflects the difference between the public-law nature of constitutional rights and freedoms of users and the private-law nature of user agreements, for which a “civil” mode of public offer is established by default. In countries that have embarked on the path of strict regulation of the Internet, the guarantees established in user agreements do not practically result in respecting and protecting the constitutional rights and freedoms of users. User agreements will be analyzed in relation to internationally developed guidance documents – the User Agreements and Human Rights Guidelines of the Internet Governance Forum and the Manila Principles on the Responsibility of Intermediaries. A third legal conflict arises between restrictive measures introduced within the framework of Russia’s national legislation asserting the “sovereignty” of the Russian Internet, and human rights and the legitimate interests of users of social networks and other platforms, especially foreign ones, in relation to protection of their rights to access information on the Internet, as well as other rights and freedoms exercised via the Internet. The legal conflicts reviewed in this article can be resolved by maintaining the open and international character of the Internet, as this is the sole condition for realization of the human rights of Internet users in any country. This means it is impossible to regulate the Internet exclusively within the bounds of national jurisdiction. It is necessary to develop norms of international law regulating the Internet which are acceptable to most countries and which concern platforms’ user agreements and also intermediaries’ responsibilities.

About the author: Andrey Shcherbovich – Candidate of Sciences (Ph.D.) in Law, O’Brien/IIE Scholar Rescue Fund Fellow in Residence, McGill University, Montreal, Canada.

Citation: Shcherbovich A. (2021) Konflikty prav v regulrovanii onlayn-platform v Rossii [Conflicts of rights in the regulation of online platforms in Russia]. Sravnitel'noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, vol. 30, no. 6, pp. 106–122. (In Russian).


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