Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law requiring moderately popular bloggers to register with the government, multiple media outlets have reportered.
Referred to colloquially as the “blogger’s law,” it stipulates that any site with more than 3,000 daily viewers must register as a news site, and be held to the same legal standards. The act of registering requires those bloggers to give their full identifies, so the law effectively criminalizes anonymous blogging for any Russian who can draw that many readers. It takes effect Aug. 1, and violations can result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, or the blog being shuttered by the government.
Russia has been keeping a tight rein on its bloggers in recent years. The blogging platform LiveJournal, which has long fallen out of style in the U.S., is still popular there, and is subject to routine government shakeups. The country’s 18-month-old blacklist law, ostensibly designed to combat threats to children online, has been used to temporarily block every LiveJournal blog in the country. Independent bloggers who write about government corruption have been met with violence, and in March, Russia blocked four independent news sites, obliquely citing their reporting of an upcoming Moscow protest against invading Ukraine.
It’s unclear how that 3,000 visitor mark will be enforced. The law doesn’t specify, and news sites’ visitor numbers can stay low for days, then jump when a story goes viral.