The lower house of the Russian Parliament has given its approval to a new law which will resemble the European Union's controversial "Right to be Forgotten" legislation, but which critics have warned is stricter, arbitrary, and open to abuse.
The bill, which was advanced earlier this month, requires search engines to remove "outdated or irrelevant personal information from search results on request from users".
In response to the EU bill, Google established a process so that complainants could rapidly highlight hyperlinks they wish to remove from searches for their names – as well as explaining why the offending content they wished to remove is "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant".
However, under the Russian law, complainants would not be required to provide specific hyperlinks, instead simply declaring what information they wished to be removed.
What has especially raised concerns, however, is that the Russian law does not exclude public figures, as the EU law does. This has raised fears that it will be misused to conceal information from the public about politicians' misdeeds, especially when those politicians might be able to force the removal of content without seeking a court order, or providing evidence or justification for their request.
According to a WSJ blog, Russia's largest search engine, Yandex, has stated that implementing the bill's requirements could "take eternity", and may even be technically impossible.
Yandex has also claimed that the legislation would unconstitutionally restrict people's right to access reliable information.
"If this bill is passed, the information about a clinic or a doctor, a school or a teacher one is considering to choose, may be impossible to find," a company statement said.
A previous vote on the bill saw it receive the support of 423 of 424 lawmakers. The bill requires one more vote, and then to be signed off by President Putin, to be passed into law. If that happens it will take effect on 1 January, 2016. ®