28 March 2020
Hi! It’s Tanya Torocheshnikova
We had a letter this week from Roskomnadzor asking us to delete one of our articles, as it had been found to, “contain information constituting personal data”.
Tough one, right? I’ll tell you about it now. It has to do with an article on the Moscow ‘diggers’, who, in 2015, were charged with unlawfully obtaining state secrets. The lads broke into an abandoned ‘Metro 2’ shaft in central Moscow, took a few pictures, posted them on social media… and paid the price with a criminal lawsuit. One of those involved in the case, who got a suspended sentence, told us his story. It featured the rest of his mates, of course: four lads and a girl.
We published the story and then, a day later, we had a letter from that girl, asking us to remove her name from the article. It’s worth noting here that the diggers’ case has been reported many times on other websites, even in a news story on TV (!) – where they mentioned the girl’s name.
But, evidently, we touched on a nerve, and the girl went for help at Roskomnadzor. They then checked the article and ordered us to delete the personal data, threatening to block the site.
That’s why the name of one of the characters featuring in our article has now been changed.
Although Google remembers some stuff, you can still make it forget inconvenient truths. And as they say, once you’ve started, you might as well finish. There’s a law for this, on the right to be forgotten. It’s been applied in Russia since 2016, and do you know who was among the first to take advantage of it? A Solntsevskaya mafia crime boss. Yep, that really happened.
In reality, though, asserting the right to be forgotten isn’t straightforward. So, in this piece we talk about how it works, why the law comes in for criticism, and who else in Russia has wanted to hide their life story.
As for personal data, this is always a contentious issue. There is a need to protect it, of course, but no one actually knows what it covers exactly. We asked our lawyer Arina Nachinova to look into it, and in this short video, she talks about what counts as personal data, how the courts settle issues relating to it, and how to avoid unintentionally disclosing someone’s personal information. And, in the meantime, Roskomnadzor will, like that Faerie Dragon, carry on protecting I don’t know what regardless.
Take care, stay at home, and don’t let any Dragons into your life.
Tanya & Team 29
Translated by Lindsay Munford