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Interior Ministry Wants to Hold Internet Providers Responsible for Illegal Content

The cyber crime department of the Interior Ministry wants to force Internet providers to take responsibility for the their customers' activity with pirate films and child pornography.

The department is now attempting to document the distribution of illegal content in the networks of Internet providers, said Zhannat Seralinov, the head of the Interior Ministry's cyber crime department for the Moscow region.

Checks of the local networks of operators are being carried out across the country, said Larisa Zhukova, press secretary for the cyber crime department. The results will be clear by the end of April or beginning of May, she said.

Currently, violations of intellectual property rights or distributing child pornography carry a six-year prison sentence.

The concept of forcing Internet providers to take responsibility for IP rights violations is part of a set of amendments to the Civil Code proposed by President Dmitry Medvedev that were passed to the Duma last week. Medvedev expects they will enter in to force in September.

Legal experts say holding an employee of an Internet provider liable for such violations requires proving that the employee participated in the distribution of the illegal content.

Spokespeople for MTS, VimpelCom and MegaFon — which control the largest Internet providers in the country — said they are not aware of any investigations being conducted.

Vadim Kurin, the general director of Internet provider Netbynet, which is now owned by MegaFon, told Vedomosti that three years ago police officials came to their office to investigate allegedly illegal file exchange activity, but came to the conclusion that the company was not guilty of any violation.

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