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Internet Blacklist Off-Limits to Foreign Firms

Foreign-owned websites and hosting companies that are affected by the new Internet law dealing with banned content don’t have access to the Communications and Press Ministry’s official blacklist, even if they are affected by it.

The law, which took effect Nov. 1, allows the ministry to ban websites and Web pages that in its determination contain or promote child pornography, suicide or illicit drug use or have content that is illegal under other Russian laws.

Google Russia hasn’t been able to access the blacklist, an electronic registry of Web pages and sites, Vedomosti reported Tuesday, citing Google Russia government relations director Marina Zhunich.

Alla Zabrovskaya, a Google spokeswoman for eastern and central Europe, said by e-mail late Wednesday that the company didn’t have any additional comment.

At issue is the government’s requirement that companies accessing the registry use an electronic digital signature issued by a certification center under the aegis of the Communications and Press Ministry.

But digital signatures aren’t issued to foreign companies, Vedomosti said.

Companies do have other means of finding out if material they develop or host is blacklisted. Under the law, they should be notified by the Federal Mass Media Inspection Service, the ministry’s watchdog administering the registry, when a site is added to the list.

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