Brief comparative legal analysis of measures to counter the distribution of illegal (destructive) content on the Internet

Brief comparative legal analysis of measures to counter the distribution of illegal (destructive) content on the Internet


From 2017 to the present day many countries are adopting laws to introduce additional mechanisms and measures to regulate content on the Internet. These measures, first of all, imply countering the dissemination of illegal information in the digital environment, which is considered as such according to the criteria of national legislation.

It should be noted that due to the significant difference in country approaches, to date, no uniform understanding and terminology of “illegal (destructive) content” has been developed.

With the development and growth of the influence of the largest transnational Internet companies, cases of violation of the rights and freedoms of citizens in the digital environment proportionally increase, one of the “pillars” of the digital sovereignty of states is being eroded – the mechanism for protecting the internal virtual environment from unwanted or harmful information. As a result, socio-political, historical, religious, cultural and moral attitudes are increasingly being “embedded” into the imported information product (news services, film industry, social networks, games and entertainment industry, etc.).

Realizing these threats, the governments of many countries are developing and implementing an appropriate regulatory framework in order to ensure information security, national economic interests, and protect the rights of their citizens on the Internet. The most acute problems of legal regulation of relations in the global digital space include the issues of preventing the spread of prohibited information, combating cybercrime, protecting intellectual rights in the digital environment, ensuring freedom of speech and the right to access information, protecting personal data and consumer rights on the Internet, issues taxation and protection of competition in the field of e-commerce. Currently, in most countries, a special branch of legislation has been formed that regulates legal relations on the Internet (cyber law, Internet law).

The key task of legal regulation of the information space on the Internet is not only to establish requirements for participants in information legal relations (owners of Internet sites, telecom operators, hosting providers, etc.), but also to develop effective mechanisms for fulfilling these requirements. As practice shows, the establishment of “classical” measures of responsibility, such as an administrative fine for non-compliance with the requirements of the law, is insufficient to ensure law and order in the digital space, since many participants in legal relations do not have a physical presence and property within the jurisdiction of most states in which they exercise their commercial activities. In such conditions, states are forced to take additional measures to protect public order and indirectly enforce the requirements of national legislation (building interaction with large Internet companies, blocking and slowing down access to illegal content through information intermediaries, counteracting means of bypassing blocking, excluding links to illegal content from search results of operators of search engines, prohibition of advertising on Internet sites that do not comply with the requirements of national legislation, etc.).

De facto regulation of spreading of information on the Internet is carried out by the corporate policies of leading IT companies, which establish their own rules for content moderation. However, these corporate frameworks often do not fully comply with the national laws of the countries where Internet companies operate. In some cases, there is insufficient moderation, when prohibited information is stored on the Internet site that is contrary to public order, in others - excessive moderation, which violates freedom of speech and the right of citizens to access information. In such an environment, governments seek to ensure that corporate policies of Internet companies are “localized” in accordance with national regulatory requirements.

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