Posted 10 февраля 2022,, 07:56

Published 10 февраля 2022,, 07:56

Modified 24 декабря 2022,, 22:38

Updated 24 декабря 2022,, 22:38

Digital cudgel: who benefits from out-of-court blocking of sites

Digital cudgel: who benefits from out-of-court blocking of sites

10 февраля 2022, 07:56
Since December last year, the State Duma has been considering a bill that will allow blocking competitors' websites without trial. It all started with a desire to block sites with dietary supplements and vitamins.

Now under the sword of Damocles all Internet goods and services. Novye Izvestia tried to sort out who benefits from this.

Yelena Ivanova, Natalia Seibil

In June 2021, two United Russia members, Alexander Petrov and Sergey Neverov, submitted a bill to the State Duma that provides for extrajudicial blocking of websites offering dietary supplements, vitamins and other food products, if they do not have certification in the Russian Federation, while no international certificates are not taken into account .

To this end, the laws “On Information, Information Technologies and Information Protection” and “On the Quality and Safety of Food Products” were proposed to be amended accordingly.

The profile ministries were not very enthusiastic about the documents, considering them poorly developed, and made their comments. For example, the Ministry of Industry and Trade feared that if the goods in question are located on the marketplace website, not only a separate account, but also the website of the entire marketplace could be damaged. The Ministry of Digital Development rejected the idea of the project developers to extend the new norms not only to specialized sites, but also to social media accounts.

After completion, the bill was introduced again in December.

Technical difficulties of blocking

The developers swear that only individual pages can now be blocked. Experts and specialized associations argue that blocking one page without touching the entire site is almost impossible.

Both large marketplaces and small online stores, protecting themselves from cyber-scammers, use an application layer data transfer protocol that supports encryption. This is how merchants protect themselves from user identity theft, phishing, payment form spoofing, and other cybercrimes. Experts say that it is precisely because of this that the bill under discussion will lead to the blocking of the entire resource with thousands of bona fide suppliers. When trying to block one seller of counterfeit products, ten other bona fide suppliers of goods can be banned. As representatives of marketplaces said at the hearings in the Public Chamber, this procedure can be compared to the closure of the entire Pyaterochka chain of stores due to one incorrectly labeled glazed curd.

Who will benefit from the new anti-counterfeiting law

The fight against counterfeiting, which was announced by the authors of the bill, is just an excellent sign, behind which lie other reasons and business interests.

First of all, those who write such bills will win. Market participants say that the service that will monitor compliance with them will receive additional funding. Those who control will win, because they will receive more budgets, the authors of the law, who wrote another vigilant law, says executive director Ivan Kurguzov.

Now, when the state flywheel has unwound, everyone has forgotten that this action began as a struggle between some Russian manufacturing companies and foreign sites where dietary supplements and vitamins are sold. In the race in terms of price / quality ratio, ours often lose to foreigners, but instead of working on the quality of their products, they prefer to squeeze competitors out of the market, depriving Russians of the very possibility of choice.

President of the National Association of Distance Selling Alexander Ivanov cannot understand why illegal methods of solving problems are offered to the market, when there are legal ones - on the basis of a court decision, the necessary measures can and should be taken:

- The new law is just beneficial to unscrupulous businessmen who can block honest ones. It is clear that they will block on a slander. This is happening now. In order to put these blocks on the complaint of an unknown person on the stream, we have this law.

Chairman of the Public Association "Nutritsiologists of Russia", nutritionist Anton Shekhetov does not understand the meaning of this war at all. In Russia, practically there is no own production of vitamins either for humans or for animals.

- What we produce is made from foreign raw materials - Chinese, European, American, - the doctor clarifies.

The problem with counterfeit exists all over the world, and it is necessary to fight it, market participants believe. But outside the Internet there is much more counterfeit than on the Internet, and extrajudicial blocking will not change the situation.

- This law is an unruly huge cudgel, which, besides the fact that it is not picky, is launched under the conditions that are available in the competitive struggle. For example, I will complain to someone that he has a counterfeit. His site will be blocked, his business will sag. And I myself do nothing, I only do good things, I conveyed a signal to the vigilant authorities. It is absolutely impossible to do all this, - says Ivan Kurguzov.

Who will suffer from the new law

Bombing Voronezh is an original Russian pastime. The same is true of the new bill. They aim at foreign competitors, but where do they hit? That's right, to their own, Russian online trading platforms and to their Russian consumers.

- If a person gets addicted to online shopping, this geography means little to him. He learned to shop both there and there. We can say that all people who buy online are all potential buyers on domestic sites and on foreign sites, - says Alexander Ivanov, President of the National Association of Distance Selling.

Distance trading is one of the fastest growing segments of the Russian economy. 70 million Russians buy goods online.

“The e-commerce segment is the main driver of the entire Runet economy and the digital economy of Russia as a whole. According to our calculations, in 2020 the volume of the e-commerce economy amounted to 6 trillion rubles. In 2021, according to the forecast, this amount will be 42% more, and by 2025 it will be four times more. - quotes the magazine "Expert" the words of the director of the Association of Electronic Communications Sergey Plugotarenko at the hearings in the Public Chamber.

If competing companies bombard each other with complaints and block websites, this will only lead to losses for honest companies, increased inconvenience to consumers and higher prices.

What began as a struggle between manufacturers and foreign marketplaces has become a threat to the entire e-commerce sector. Russian marketplaces will be especially affected. If the state starts blocking individual sites, the likelihood that the entire marketplace will “fall down” is significant.

- For marketplaces, this is especially dangerous for a very simple reason: they have more pages. Starting from a certain volume, you can’t moderate everything. With marketplaces, in terms of goods, you can say that this is a kind of social network. They have an infinite number of accounts with an infinite number of posts. Therefore, it will hit them, of course, harder. It may happen that on some page they overlooked - and that's it, - says Ivan Kurguzov, executive director of and responsible for the Internet commerce cluster of the Russian Association of Electronic Communications.

According to our information, the largest marketplaces in the country, such as Ozon and Wildberries , have sent letters to the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation expressing concern about the current situation in the online trading market. The restrictions envisaged by the new bill, according to the authors of the letters, are excessive. The law is adopted in a hurry, but problems can be solved by other, not so harsh methods.

Foreign marketplaces are also under threat of blocking. They sell goods that, by definition, cannot have Russian certificates. Their certificates are issued in the country of origin. This state of affairs fully complies with the norms of technical regulation of the Eurasian Economic Union. The EAEU is working on new laws that will improve consumer protection, but will not deprive them of the ability to buy cross-border goods. The new laws do not at all take into account the legal relations that have developed during the importation of goods intended for personal use into the territory of Russia by mail from abroad.

Everyone will remain in the loser - Russian companies, foreign marketplaces. Are there any winners in this battle? Unscrupulous competitors will continue to prosper, while conscientious ones will accumulate losses.

- I think that everything that is bad for the buyer, everything is bad for the seller. It is not clear why we are talking about out-of-court decisions when everything is fine with judicial ones. Why are we being offered outlaw solutions like the law when there is a working law? - Alexander Ivanov will not understand.

Buyers of dietary supplements will remain in the loser

There is no doubt that buyers will have to clear up all this chaos. The first thing that awaits them is an increase in prices for vitamins and dietary supplements. Doctors say that a healthy person should replenish nutrients with a balanced diet. But risk groups cannot do without dietary supplements and vitamins.

- It is necessary to replenish with the help of vitamin-mineral complexes and biologically active additives a risk group that cannot compensate for these shortcomings with a large diet of high calorie content. These are office workers or people with illnesses, or those who cannot fully spend their energy in fitness centers, those who do not have the habit of physical activity and healthy diet consumption, says nutritionist Anton Shekhetov.

Market participants have no doubts that prices will rise if the new law is adopted.

- This will lead, if not to a sharp, but to a gradual increase in prices. This law will be introduced for now, for now, for now. And then the flywheel will unwind, and prices will rise properly, - Ivan Kurguzov confirms.

Against the backdrop of rising inflation in fruits and vegetables, and - who has not forgotten - the ongoing pandemic, such a prospect sounds daunting. This will especially affect residents of those regions where all products are already imported.

- I will answer you simply: ordinary people will not order in foreign marketplaces. People who know what VPN, anonymizers and proxy servers are can easily bypass these blocks and can easily order. Do you understand that anabolic steroids are prohibited for free sale in the Russian Federation? However, bodybuilders by hook or by crook try to order and receive. Exactly the same will happen with dietary supplements, it's just that this market will go into the shadows. It seems to me that the regulator should not prohibit, but regulate, - Anton Shekhetov believes.

What other measures are there to combat harmful goods?

Obviously, the out-of-court blocking of websites proposed by the authors of the bill looks like an unreasonable measure. The problem of goods that do not meet the requirements of Russian laws is still being resolved in Russian courts. According to market participants, there are a sufficient number of tools and mechanisms that make it possible to prevent low-quality and even harmful dietary supplements and vitamins from entering the Russian market. There is, for example, digital marking, which allows you to track the entire path of the goods from the manufacturer to the consumer. And the fight against counterfeit goods on the Internet differs little from the fight against them in retail.

The only thing that the authors of the new law will achieve is also obvious: the eternal blocking will become a weapon of unfair competition and a method of resolving corporate disputes. Neither citizens nor market participants will see the benefit of it. On the contrary, the self-employed will be even more limited in access to marketplaces, and new technical barriers will appear for small and medium-sized businesses. For example, cakes and cookies, which are now sold by individuals, will disappear. The food industry will be followed by any other trade and services, because it is always easy to prohibit. And these are not empty words: the State Duma is considering another draft law No. 50212-8. It provides for out-of-court blocking of sites that sell any goods and services if they do not meet the requirements of the law. including in terms of product safety and labeling. All the same “law of cheese”, when one mislabeled product can lead to the closure of the entire network. So dietary supplements and vitamins can become a trial balloon in the prohibition of everything and everyone.

The market hopes that it will not come to that.