If you are officially recognized as a blogger in Russia, your name will soon appear on a state “blogger registry.” Only a handful of names have appeared on the list since its launch last Friday, but there's no telling how many bloggers Russia's communications agency, Roscomnadzor, will add to its records.
Apart from collecting bloggers’ names and URLs, Roscomnadzor asks bloggers to share something every Internet user knows never to divulge: their logins and passwords.
In a recent interview, Roscomnadzor director Aleksandr Zharov argued that being in the registry will allow bloggers to “legalize their business” and attract the attention of advertising firms. Indeed, Zharov and the Russian government encourage Russian bloggers to contact Roscomnadzor directly, to find out if they qualify to join the registry.
But not all bloggers are eligible for the registry — “official” bloggers are those who maintain a daily audience of over 3,000 visits. “Winning recognition” from the state is exactly how the government hopes to promote the new system.
On July 30, the good people at TJournal.ru attended a demonstration of Roscomnadzor's blogger registration process. The government is still fine-tuning tools for measuring bloggers’ daily audiences, a tricky process as many social networks, like Facebook, do not publish user-specific traffic statistics. To expedite the counting procedure, Roscomnadzor suggests that bloggers submit their logins and passwords, so that the registry can track audience volume and behavior, in a fashion similar to that of a third-party app.
It's unclear how many Russians have trusted the government with their social network passwords, but we know that roughly 130 people appealed to Roscomnadzor on the day the blogger registry launched.
Needless to say, the potential for the government to abuse this policy and use login information to monitor and manipulate bloggers’ activities is daunting.