President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Zharov, you have an extensive area of responsibility. Today I would like to discuss at least two issues with you. The first is protection of personal data. There are millions of personal data operators. How do you organise protection of personal data? The second matter I want to discuss is protection of intellectual property rights.
Head of the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media Alexander Zharov: You are absolutely right, Mr President. More than five million companies from around the world provide services to Russian citizens. They offer their products and request customers’ personal data.
The issue is very sensitive. We are monitoring it. One hundred thousand companies handle quite significant volumes of personal data. In the past three years, we have exposed just over 1,200 companies that were out of hand in their distribution of our citizens’ data online, including their passport data, information on cars they own and their residential property. Some 690 websites removed the information concerned but we had to block the other 550. We continue this work, using our automated system for internet monitoring.
But I think blocking is not a cure-all solution in this case. The most important thing is to educate the public about personal data.
There is a proverbial expression that Big Data fuels the digital economy. This is why the banking sector and communications operators are chasing this data.
People need to carefully read user agreements, the fine print, because the devil is in the detail. This fine print often contains the statement that the company in question receives your personal data, provides its services free of charge and then sells your data to a third party.
This is what we tell children and teenagers. Over the past three years, more than a million kids have attended our lessons and seminars in schools and summer camps.
We will continue this work and, based on preventive measures, will continue to closely monitor companies online.
Vladimir Putin: In this case, awareness is, of course, the first step towards protecting the rights of citizens.
And the second issue?
Alexander Zharov: The second issue. The law on protection of intellectual property has been in force for three years now. Most complaints are related to movies: over 6,000 lawsuits have been filed by Russian companies, and a small number of foreign companies have filed lawsuits at the Moscow city court for some reason.
In fact, we are working in a trilateral format: first, there is the intellectual property owner, second, the Moscow city court, which decides on the banning or deleting of information on the internet, and finally, Roskomnadzor. In all, there were over 17,000 pirate websites.
Only a few years ago, the Russian internet was a haven for piracy. All new films appeared immediately on hundreds and thousands of websites, and people watched them for free, although the quality was poor. Now, the situation has changed drastically: 6,000 such websites have been blocked and 11,000 have had such content deleted. The numbers speak for themselves. For the first time in the history of Russian filmmaking, our really fine film Dvizheniye Vverkh (Going Vertical), which premiered in 2018, earned some 3 billion rubles. This is comparable with only one American blockbuster which earned the same amount.
In 2017, legal over-the-top media services earned some 8 billion rubles, 60 percent more than in 2016. Cinema attendance also increased in 2017 to 55 million, 40 percent higher than in 2016. I think that all this money will return to the filmmaking industry.
Vladimir Putin: 40 percent more?
Alexander Zharov: A 40 percent increase in viewings. As a result, people receive quality films for reasonable money.
We are going to continue this work with intellectual property owners. And, for the most part, all the largest pirate websites are blocked. We will continue to clean up the internet.