Russian Big Data Bill : a giant step forward or a tribute to a trend?

[AMICUS CURIAE] On 23 of October a group of parliamentarians introduced to the State Duma a new bill which aims to regulate the Big Data.  According to the definition in the Bill, Big Data is any kind of information which can be collected by companies and which is not personalized. Such information is widely used nowadays by banks, trade companies and telecom services which usually have their own Data collection departments. They analyze consumer’s behavior, their capacity to pay and other information. The Bill requires such companies to post information on their website informing the users about collecting of their data. Moreover, collecting of the data without direct agreement of the Users becomes prohibited. The aim of the Bill, as it has been mentioned in the commentaries to it, is to protect the Internet Users. The drafters of the Bill believe that the users of Internet should get support and respect to their legal Internet rights. Indeed, lots of information about Internet users can be easily found in the social media and users are not protected by the State.

One can argue that Internet users already enjoy a high level of protection under a federal law which regulates the personal data. However, as the drafters of the Bill believe, with the development of Internet, the amount of information is going to grow and it leads an appearance of so-called grey-zone-information, which does not fall under the requirements for the personal data, but still consist some information about the users.

This Bill has been widely criticized by the business community, claiming that it will harm the development of Big Data market in Russia. Moreover, business is afraid that it can lead over-regulation of the IT-sphere. The last argument seems barely truthful because there is still no legal act which even mentions the rights of Internet users. All this reaction looks as a storm in teacup. As a matter of fact, the debaters should mainly concentrate on the improvement of particular provisions of the Bill. There is another problem that should be taken into account, Big Data has become quite a popular topic which is always on the agenda, and it is mentioned nearly on every conference and in any public speech. The main threat is that this Bill is just a tribute to a trend and the main aim should be to make the law which will really benefit Internet Users.

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