Internet Censorship in Russia

Russia restoring repressive state control of media



31st January
2008
  

Letters from Russia...

Russian internet addresses will enable the isolation of Russian users

In a couple of months' time, the horrors of censorship depicted by George Orwell in 1984 will seem like childish pranks compared to the powers granted to the Russian authorities.

According to the Guardian, Russian internet users, will be completely locked off from foreign traffic, which can be used to access the majority of free information, as currently happens in China. Those whose work requires access to foreign sites (ministries, departments and state companies) will have to be approved by the Special Services.

In practice, this will be achieved by the introduction of Cyrillic domain names, which will automatically cut the whole of Russia off from the World Wide Web and the Internet's other services.

The 'Russian Internet' project will look at the question of how they can best communicate within their own country. The internationalization of domain names will give them the chance to do what is being attempted in China, where three top-level domain names, written in Chinese characters, are used: .net, .com and .cn, says Wolfgang Kleinwachter, member of the UN Working Group on Internet Governance, explaining the technical details.

The key question here is whether Russia's own root servers will use Russian international domain names when deciding where to direct their enquiries on the Internet -- that is will they be autonomous from the already existing root servers of the net, which are mainly based in the USA (5 in the USA, 2 in Northern Europe).

In Kleinwachter's opinion, the worst case scenario would be everyone having to register domain names using the Cyrillic top-level domain .rf. Then Russian would have its own root name server, and it is much easier to control a top-level domain than a hundred thousand subdomains, says the expert.

According to Kleinwachter, it has been suggested that people will be able to access Russian sites freely but will require a password sanctioned by state authorities to access the global Internet. In this way, the Kremlin will be able to control each citizen's contact with the outside world.

The authorities however assert that this will make tracing "cyber-criminals" easier. Anyone wishing to read the European press, including the Ukrainian, will now become a dangerous criminal.

Western IT specialists point out that this innovation would also make all Russian hackers absolutely untraceable without cooperation from the Russian authorities. [Perhaps The ASCII internet world would the have to block all communication from untraceable sources]

 

14th February
2008
  

Update: Curtains for Internet Freedom...

Russia looks to register and control small websites

Russian lawmakers presented amendments on which would strictly regulate the most popular Russian websites. If passed, the legislation would change the way the internet is viewed from a legal standpoint. Vladimir Slutsker, a delegate from Chuvashiya, introduced the proposed changes.

Amendments are needed to increase responsibility for the information being posted , Slutsker said: We propose equating internet sites with mass media depending on the frequency of visits. Sites that see more than 1000 visitors would be treated the same as a newspaper or TV station, and would be required to register through the Russian agency that oversees mass media.

In addition, the proposed changes would force websites to cite their sources, and reference only registered publications.

Internet blogs and social networking sites would be excluded, according the delegate's press secretary.

Criticism of the proposal was sharp, with opponents calling the move the government's latest step in dismantling freedom of speech in the country. Some critics equated the draft law with censorship under the Soviet Union.

 

19th April
2008
  

Update: Ominous in Russia...

Registration of all Wi-Fi devices and vague content control of internet

Russia's recently formed regulatory super-agency, Rossvyazokhrankultura (short for the Russian Mass Media, Communications and Cultural Protection Service) has propose an ominous-sounding policy of requiring registration for every Wi-Fi device and hotspot.

Rossvyazokhrankultura's interpretation of current law holds that users must register any electronics that use the frequency involved in Wi-Fi communications, said Vladimir Karpov, the deputy director of the agency's communications monitoring division.

Aside from public hotspots, the registration requirement also applies to home networks, laptops, smart phones and Wi-Fi-enabled PDAs, Karpov reportedly said. Registration only permits use by the owner.

Registration for personal devices is said to take 10 days, but registering a hotspot - including a home network - is more complicated, involving a set of documents and technological certifications.

Any networks in Moscow or St. Petersburg need the additional approval of two federal agencies, Karpov said: Setting up a home Wi-Fi network or a hotspot would require what sounds like vast amounts of paperwork, akin to putting a cell tower, commented wireless pundit Glenn Fleishman.

Based on article from The Other Russia

Russia's Public Chamber, which oversees draft legislation and advises the Parliament, has upheld recent legislation that would regulate information on the internet. Members of the panel, which was formed by President Vladimir Putin in 2005, met at an extended session of the Committee for communications, informational policy and freedom of speech in the media. The group discussed legislation introduced by prosecutors that would put controls on cyberspace and attempt to keep the web free of supposedly immoral and unethical materials.

Senator Vladimir Slutsker, a Federation Council delegate from Chuvashiya who introduced his own version of an internet regulation bill in February, said that a new law was needed since the relevance of the regular law on mass-media was questionable. It is not clearly written into the law itself, and [cases] are now given up to the buy-out of the courts.

Nearly all the speakers agreed that controls on the internet must be reinforced.

One of the few dissenting voices came from Mikhail Fedotov, a Secretary of the Russian Union of Journalists, who co-authored Russia's the original draft law on mass-media. Fedotov asserted that a single amendment to the law on mass-media, which would allow for prosecuting slander on the web, would suffice.

 

28th April
2008
  

Update: Extreme Concern...

Russia proposes an internet ban on extremist material

he Russian prosecutor's office wants tough anti-extremism laws to be extended to the Internet, state newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta reported, prompting fears of growing media censorship.

The prosecutors office has proposed a legal amendment to bring the Internet under the same rules as printed media, Vyacheslav Sizov, a top official at the prosecutor general's office told the daily.

Newspapers deemed in court to have published extremist material can be shut down under current laws. The new proposal is for any website deemed to have hosted extremist material to be blocked by providers in Russia within a month, Sizov said.

The extremism law has already come under fire from human rights activists, who say its sweeping nature is open to abuse by officials wanting to outlaw legitimate criticism.

 

14th December
2008
  

Update: Unhampered Discussions...

Russia withdraws internet censorship bill

A draft law to toughen control over electronic media, including in the Internet, as part of efforts against extremism has been withdrawn from Russia's lower house of parliament for further discussion.

The Russian Vedomosti daily suggested that it may have been pulled at the request of the government.

In November, during his state-of-the-nation address, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev pledged a commitment to free speech, saying that, No government officials will be able to hamper discussions in the Internet.

The bill proposed by the dominant, Kremlin-backed United Russia party allows the closure of websites for publishing for a second time materials promoting extremism. It would also order Internet providers to block access to the website.

 

28th September
2010
  

Offsite: Cyber Cossaks...

Russia's blogging revolution

Artyom Tiunov was recently detained by Russian police on suspicion of theft and subjected to 14 hours of brutal interrogation. The police hoped he would confess to a crime he didn't commit. They hoped he would provide them with an open-and-shut case; every police department has to present a certain number of these in a given a period or be subjected to severe questioning over their low clear-up rate. This pressure has become a major source of the abuse and corruption which everybody, including the police themselves, hopes to see off in the reforms scheduled for 2012-13..

But instead the police had to release Tiunov after being confronted with CCTV footage of him exiting a restaurant at the time of the alleged crime. Tiunov described the whole ordeal on his Livejournal.com page a blogging platform massively popular in Russia ,hosting over 1.5 million Russian-language blogs and the post, titled Wrong place, wrong time , attracted more than 1,000 comments in just two days.

...Read the full article

 

9th February
2011
  

Update: League of Internet Safety...

Russia to recruit an army of 'simple people' to censor the internet

One day there will be thousands of volunteers out there patrolling the Russian Internet. That at least is the dream of a new organization, the League of Internet Safety.

The league is formed by the three major mobile providers: Mobile TeleSystems, VimpelCom, and Megafon, and the state telecom company Rostelecom. It also features the head of Mail.ru, Dmitry Grishin, on its board of trustees, which is headed by the Communications and Press Minister Igor Shchyogolev.

Shchyogolev says thousands of volunteers, or simple people, would monitor the Internet and tell the league when they see dangerous content.  The league will also provide grants to develop filters to protect children from seeing adult material on the web too.

The league's stated purpose in the next year will be to fight against child pornography, organizers say. But they inevitably talked about expanding that mission to policing other negative content.

Pavel Astakhov, the children's ombudsman who is also a trustee of the league, called on Internet users themselves to refrain from putting anything negative, extremist, disgusting or dangerous online.

Bloggers, for their part, reacted skeptically to the new organization.

Anton Nossik, one of the country's most famous bloggers and Internet businessman, pointed out that China, which has far more control of the web than Russia, had its own cyber-militia to screen websites to report to the authorities.

Another blogger Maxim Kononenko slammed the idea, claiming that organizations like the Friendly Internet had limited success. He suggested that the League of Internet Safety would end up being sold as a business in the future.

Others suggested that the league was just another way for the state to abuse the Internet for its own purposes. In recent years, the security services and Kremlin-backed youth organizations have been active on the Internet, harassing those they view as ideological opponents.

 

2nd March
2011
  

Update: Russian Police Censorship...

Police given open ended powers to censor the internet without judicial oversight

A new Russian police law has come into force that gives officers the right to take down web sites without a court order but industry representatives said police can already do that under existing legislation.

The police's right is mentioned in a report on intellectual piracy submitted by the Economic Development Ministry to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, which is preparing its own annual piracy survey

The ministry report, first leaked on the Marker.ru news web site, lists the police's right to shut down web sites among measures intended to help crack down on copyright infringement.

The police law provides officers with an instrument to terminate the activity of Internet resources that infringe on Russian and international copyright law, which was previously possible only with the judicial order or during investigation, the ministry said in the report.

The actual police legislation does not mention web sites, but contains vague wording that authorizes the police to order any organization to change or stop operations that contribute to criminal activity in any way.

 

21st March
2011
  

Update: Blog Propaganda and Identification of Activists...

Russian responses to fears of popular uprising as inspired by social networking

Western media outlets can't stop glorifying the Internet and social networks as the new tools for empowering grassroots resistance movements. This point is not lost on the notoriously suspicious Kremlin, which is convinced that the West has found a new means for advancing its interests after the color revolutions of the mid-2000s. Since then, the argument goes, the opposition is much more capable of orchestrating a regime change thanks to Twitter technology.

What's more, even weak or poorly organized opposition forces are capable of effecting regime change if their arsenals include Twitter and Facebook. As President Dmitry Medvedev said last week in Vladikavkaz: Let's face the truth. They have been preparing such a scenario for us, and now they will try even harder to implement it.

Medvedev's reaction shows that the Kremlin is taking the threat very seriously. The question now is how the authorities will respond if similar protests erupt in Russia. The siloviki and the presidential administration are the two agencies capable of responding to any Internet-based threat of revolution.

The Federal Security Service and Interior Ministry have demonstrated several times in recent years which approach they believe is best, registering every single Internet user to identify extremists and bring criminal charges against them. That is precisely how the they reacted to the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. They proposed Criminal Code amendments that would have made the owners of online social networks responsible for all content posted on their sites. Apparently, the idea is not to incriminate the owners of Facebook and Vkontakte of extremism personally, but to force them to pass responsibility on to individual users by requiring each to sign a contract that includes their passport information.

Meanwhile, the presidential administration has traditionally preferred more adventurous methods. A couple years ago, the Kremlin opened its own school of bloggers, and although the school was supposedly later shut down, the same initiative was taken up by the regions. This project was organized by the Foundation for Effective Policy, a think tank run by Kremlin-friendly political analyst Gleb Pavlovsky. The group is charged with a single overriding task: to resist the subversive activity of the West.

As mass unrest continues to shake authoritarian states in North Africa and the Middle East, the siloviki are pushing for the registration of social network users and waiting to pounce on anyone posting an extremist message and the Kremlin is funding pro-government bloggers. This will inevitably be interpreted by analysts as a new political battle between the government against the opposition.

Meanwhile, Russia's 40 million Internet users have shown remarkably little interest in this political struggle. This means that the Kremlin's battle to prevent an imminent Facebook revolution will remain largely virtual.

 

27th March
2011
  

Update: Searching for Political Censorship...

And finding it on a Russian search engine

Russia's most popular search engine was embroiled in a scandal when internet users spotted it blocking images of opposition protests.

Bloggers complained that they typed Russian-language opposition slogans into the Yandex search engine and found that it showed only unrelated images while a rival search engine, Google, came up with images of anti-government protests.

In a post on Friday, blogger Igor Bigdan cited the slogan, It's time to change places, which opposition activists used on a giant banner showing Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and jailed oil magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Google.ru search brought up dozens of images of the giant banner, which activists hung on a bridge opposite the Kremlin last month, while Yandex showed unrelated images including cars and a pigeon.

 

21st July
2011
  

Update: Hazardous Politicians...

Russia implements internet censorship in the name of child protection
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has signed a law supposedly protecting children from 'hazardous' information, the Kremlin reports.

The law sets a censorship level for information for children under 18 and classification of information products. This also bans schoolbooks with hazardous information.

Certain advertisements will be banned from education centers, sanatoriums and sports organizations for children within a radius of 100 meters.

Violation of the law will be punishable by 2,000-3,000 rubles for citizens, 5,000-10,000 for officials and businesses, 20,000-50,000 for legal bodies or a 90-day administrative suspension for business.

 

5th August
2011
  

Update: Listening In...

Russia to monitor blogs and social networking to keep tabs on 'extremism'
Russian Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev has called for limits to be imposed on the Internet to prevent young people from being influenced by extremism on the web.

The remarks fueled fears among bloggers, journalists, and rights activists that Russia may seek to adopt China-style restrictions on the Internet.

Nurgaliyev warned that young people are no longer united by the love songs of old and that they are prone to the malicious sway of an estimated 7,500 extremist websites operating on Russian territory:

Nurgaliyev later said the time has long been ripe to carry out monitoring in the country to find out what they are listening to, what they are reading, [and] what they are watching.

Nurgaliyev was not specific about what kind of controls he believes are needed. But he is, nevertheless, the highest-ranking official to call for restrictions on the Internet.

Security services expert Andrei Soldatov Andrei Soldatov, an expert on Russia's security services and head of the Agentura think tank, said Nurgaliyev's comments partially reflect a desire by law-enforcement bodies to stave off unrest ahead of elections to the State Duma in December and for the presidency in March 2012.

But Soldatov added that the Interior Ministry is also eager to win additional budget money to expand the online portion of a four-year-old campaign to combat extremism, which allows it to take preventive measures against those who may pose a threat: If we are talking about preventive measures, then we need to understand what people or person might in the future commit a crime, write something or publish something . For that you need to monitor what is going on the Internet.

Soldatov said the ministry would like to deploy special, so-called anti-extremism profiling systems such as one currently under construction by Roskomnadzor, an agency in the Ministry of Communications, that will monitor online media and new media in Russia.

 

20th September
2011
  

Update: Curtains for Russian Social Networking...

Russian led organisation will institute programme to control social networking

The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russian-led military cooperation body consisting of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, has announced that it will start controlling social networks to avoid the unrest seen in the Arab world.

From The Moscow News:

Sources in CSTO said:

Experts of the highest level are already working on this. The thing is, in the modern environment there is an infrastructure that allows for creating destabilizing situations in any, even the most trouble-free country. Mobile connections, social networks, even NGOs when needed, could be used for these aims.

After the Arab Spring and the much-discussed role of the Internet and social media, we'll see more and more of this Internet panic and knee-jerkism (from suggestions in Britain to shut down social networks after the London riots to this kind of blame-the-Internet-bots-rather-than-the-tyrants approach).

As countries like Belarus, Iran and Myanmar digest the lessons of the Arab Spring, their demand for monitoring technology will grow.

 

3rd November
2011
  

Update: Extreme Concern...

New Russian software set to search the net for supposedly extremist comments set to be launched in December

Reporters Without Borders condemns plans by Roskomnadzor, Russia's federal supervisory agency for communications, information technology and mass media, to use search software to track down extremist content on the Internet. The agency is currently testing the software and intends to start using it in December.

When Roskomnadzor's software, using very vague criteria, decides that a website has extremist content, the site will be given three days to remove it. If it fails to comply, it will be sent two further warnings and then it will be closed down.

In a separate development, the justice ministry has announced a contest for the design of software that it could use for scanning and monitoring Internet content. It would scan for anything posted online about the Russian government and judicial system, and any European Union statement concerning Russia.

Our main concern is Roskomnadzor's very broad definition of 'extremist' content and the arbitrary and disproportionate nature of the sanctions, that can include website closure, Reporters Without Borders said: The creation of this software will establish a generalized system of surveillance of the Russian Internet that could eventually lead to the withdrawal of all content that troubles the authorities. It will inevitably restrict the free flow of information.

 

15th December
2011
  

Update: Opportunism...

Russian proposal to set up widely defined internet censorship in the name of blocking child porn

Russia's industry organisation, League of Internet Security, has proposed creating a blacklist of websites containing child pornography and other prohibited information and oblige internet providers to block such sites.

The League's proposal followed its announcement that it had broken up an international ring of 130 alleged pedophiles circulating material via the internet.

Denis Davydov, the League's executive director, said the proposed bills also provide for tracking down extremist materials on the web, raising fears among the Russian media and internet community that they could make it easier for the authorities to crack down on dissent under the guise of fighting child abuse.

The League, whose board of trustees is headed by Communications Minister Igor Shchyogolev, proposed creating a special public organization involving experts, representatives of internet providers and search engines to monitor the web in search of suspicious content.

In line with the amendments, which have yet to be submitted to parliament, websites containing child porn are to be blocked as soon as they are identified, while those containing other prohibited information can only be closed following a court ruling.

Another proposal regarding internet security has been put forward by senior Interior Ministry official Alexei Moshkov, who said anonymous accounts should be outlawed on social networks and online forums to prevent internet fraud, blackmailing and child abuse.

 

1st April
2012
  

Update: Extreme Censors...

Russia announces plans to open regional internet censors supposedly targeted at extremist materials

The Russian Interior Ministry has announced plans to open specialized centers to monitor online media for extremism, RIA Novosti reports.

Internal Affairs Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev said that the new centers would track both text and audio-visual materials. According to Nurgaliyev, the decision was made by an interagency commission and will be implemented throughout the country by regional presidential plenipotentiaries.

Elaborating on the number of anti-extremism cases that the agency has undertaken, the minister said: Two hundred and nineteen cases of investigation and analysis were initiated in 2011. Investigative agencies filed 67 charges and issued 130 cautions, warnings and advisories. In 47 cases, access to particular internet resources was blocked and their activities were halted.

 

16th April
2012

 Offsite Article: Internet Censorship in Russia...

Nervous Kremlin seeks to purge Russia's internet of 'western' influences. Now liberals and gay rights activists are among those feeling the heat from the Kremlin

See article from guardian.co.uk

 

 

Offsite Article: The Kremlin makes its Move on Facebook...


Link Here 14th July 2012
Full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media
Russian parliament has passed a law establishing a central register of banned websites. The new laws are ostensibly designed for child protection, but the real aim is to take control over the country's burgeoning social networks

See article from indexoncensorship.org

 

 

Update: Orthodox Homophobia...

Russian christians organise petition to ban Facebook over same sex marriage icons


Link Here 14th July 2012
Full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media

According to Russia Today, nutters from the Orthodox Church are angry at the Facebook's decision to launch same-sex marriage icons, calling them gay propaganda .

The nutters apparently claim that the icons could make young people tempted to explore homosexuality. In fact, the church in the city of Saratov, southern Russia, asked issued an ultimatum requesting that the social network stop flirting with Sodomites .

The nutters have organised a petition to get Facebook banned in the country. Vladimir Roslyakovsky, leader of the Orthodox public organization, spewed:

We demand only one thing: Facebook should be blocked in the entire country because it openly popularizes homosexuality among minors.

The US goal is that Russians stop having children. [They want] the great nation to turn into likeness of Sodom and Gomorrah, Roslyakovsky said. But I am confident that Russian laws and reasonable citizens will be able to protect their children from a fierce attack of sodomites.

 

 

Updated: Curtains for the Russian Internet...

A Russian analogue to the Great Firewall of China


Link Here 19th July 2012
Full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media

Wikipedia shut down its Russian-language page on Tuesday to protest at a bill that would boost government control over the internet amid a crackdown on those opposed to the regime of President Vladimir Putin.

The page was replaces with a Wikipedia logo crossed out with a stark black rectangle, and the words imagine a world without free knowledge written in block letters underneath.

The bill, due to be considered by parliament on Wednesday, will lead to the creation of a Russian analogue to China's Great Firewall the website warned in a statement. The bill calls for the creation of a federal website banned list and would have to be signed into law by Putin before coming into effect. Internet providers and site owners would be forced to shut down websites put on the list.

The bill's backers, from Putin's United Russia party, claim that the amendments to the country's information legislation would target child pornography and sites that promote drug use and teen suicide. But critics, including Russian-language Wikipedia, warned that it could be used to boost government censorship over the internet.

Update: Duma passes censorship bill

12th July 2012. See  article from  bbc.com

Russia's parliament has voted to approve a law that would give the government the power to force certain internet sites offline without court intervention.

The bill still needs to be signed by President Vladimir Putin to become law. It must also be approved by Russia's upper house, the Federation Council of Russia.

The Moscow Times reported that deputies amended the law to removed a reference to harmful information , replacing it with a limited list of forbidden content. The blacklist is now restricted to sites offering details about how to commit suicide, material that might encourage users to take drugs, images featuring the sexual abuse of children, and pages that solicit children for pornography. If the websites themselves cannot be shut down, internet service providers and web hosting companies can be forced to block access to the offending material.

But critics have complained that once internet providers have been forced to start blocking certain sites, the government may seek court orders to expand the blacklist.

Update: Upper house passes censorship bill

19th July 2012. See  article from  theverge.com

Despite criticisms and Wikipedia protests, Russia's upper house of parliament passed a controversial draft law today that would give the government far-reaching power over the internet in the country.

The New York Times reports that the Federation Council of Russia passed the legislation 147 to 0, with three members abstaining, and matches the version that passed the lower house, the State Duma, earlier this month.

Strident objections from the Russian-language version of Wikipedia, the country's Yandex search engine, and the Russian social networking site Vkontakte may have been responsible for minor changes to the language used in the law, which saw the blanket term harmful information swapped for the more specific types of dangerous content it now specifies.

The bill will now be making its way to the desk of President Vladimir Putin, and once signed will become law.

 

 

Update: Black Day...

Russian internet blocking blacklist goes live


Link Here 3rd November 2012
Full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media

The Russian law supposedly aimed at the protection of children from harmful web content has come into effect. From now on, authorities will be able to force certain web pages offline, without requiring a court order.

It primarily refers to internet sources containing child pornography, suicide instructions or those promoting drugs. In cases with other kinds of illegal information, the decision on whether or not to ban a website will be made by a court.

A register of websites with information that is banned to be distributed in Russia went online on Thursday. The blacklist is operated by the country's media and communications watchdog, Roskomnadzor. Ordinary internet users will be able to check whether a particular internet site has been banned but cannot see the list.

Now anyone (anonymously) can use the source to report on a website they believe to be illegal or suspicious, and the watchdog is obliged to respond (but not necessarily block the website).

Under the law, once a website with censorable content is discovered, Roskomnadzor has to inform the owner of the source and their hosting-provider and demand that the prohibited information is removed. In case the source is still available 48 hours after such a request is sent, access to it will be blocked by Russian ISPs.

Update: A little propaganda maybe

3rd November 2012. See  article from  rferl.org

Russia says it has received 5,000 reports of child pornography on the Internet in the first 24 hours under a new internet censorship law.

Officials at Roskomnadzor, the regulators and censors for mass media and communications, said that they were surprised by the large number of complaints. But they added that nearly 96% of the warnings proved to be unfounded.

A spokesman said 10 Internet service providers had already been asked to contact the owners of offending sites and remove the content within 48 hours.

Activists say the new law may be used as a pretext for shutting down websites seen as critical of the government.

 

 

Update: Extreme Forms of Censorship...

Russians new internet blocking law censors 180 victims in 2 weeks


Link Here 16th November 2012
Full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media

180 websites have already been blocked under Russia's repressive new Internet law that's been in effect for the past two weeks.

The blacklist compiled by the Federal Surveillance Service for Mass Media and Communications (Roskomnadzor) is secret, but authorities unconvincingly claim that its purpose is to eliminate extreme forms of offensive content.

In its first two weeks of application, the law has produced a few high-profile casualties that critics say point to the fundamental weaknesses of a system that allows authorities to summarily shut down content without any need for a court order or reference to any supervisory body. The definitions of offensive content are also murky, critics say, and could easily include political conversation that looks extremist to a policeman's eyes and other forms of commentary that might be simply misunderstood.

That criticism seems to have already been borne out. This week alone Roskomnadzor has closed down, among others, a Wikipedia-like encyclopedia of satire, which contained an article about how to make hemp (often associated with marijuana) soup; an online library, which included a copy of The Anarchist's Cookbook, a 1970's American-authored manual for radicals; and a popular torrent-tracking website, on which users had apparently exchanged a file called The Encyclopedia of Suicide.

The agency allowed those websites to reopen after the supposedly offensive content was removed. But experts say those examples were hugely popular websites whose closure attracted immediate public attention and a storm of complaints; restoring service may not prove so easy for smaller victims of the law.

 

 

Update: High Court on High Stakes...

Russian Supreme Court upholds internet blocking of gambling websites


Link Here 12th December 2012
Full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media

The Russian government which has decided that gambling whether online or off is not a good thing and prohibits the activity in all but brick and mortar casinos in zones at the very edges of Russia’s domain. Since 2009 the Russian authorities have closed and dismantled thousands of parlour casinos and underground poker rooms.

A decree that online gambling is a prohibited activity and the responsibility is up to the ISPs to block access to gambling sites now has the Supreme Court backing it up.

A recent lower court ruling exonerated ISP company executives from an area close to the Estonian border who refused to comply with the order to deny service to gambling patrons.

The Supreme Court however said the ISP must block the gambling site that is now on the government blacklist of over 1500 supposedly illegal web sites. The Supreme Court also extended its definition of bad, to include the dissemination of information related to the implementation of activities of gambling, which makes it necessary to disconnect even sites that contain only information about gambling portals.

 

 

Update: Suicide School...

Russian internet censor tells Facebook that it would be suicide not to take down group about suicide


Link Here 29th March 2013
Full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media

Russia's internet censor has blacklisted a Facebook group on suicide. The social network now has three days to block the offending pages, else the entire Facebook website could be blocked.

Russian media and communications censor, Roskomnadzor, has for the first time added one of Facebook pages to its blacklist of web sources with supposed offensive content. This Russian language group called Suicide school published placards, cartoons and mainly humorous advice on suicide, reported Izvestia daily.

Roskomnadzor confirmed to RT that it ruled that the social network should ban access to a page on suicide. Asked whether access to Facebook may be banned if it fails to fulfil the requirement, a spokesman said that Roskomnadzor will bend every effort to make sure that interests of decent web users in Russia are not damaged.

Under the law, the censor has to notify the internet service provider, which in turn informs the content provider of the problem. The content provider has three days to delete the illegal information. Otherwise, the entire web source will be banned and all Russian providers will be obliged to block access to it.

 

 

Update: Living On to Fight Another Day...

Google lose test case appealing against Russian internet censorship


Link Here 10th May 2013
Full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media

A test-case brought by Google to challenge Russian internet censorship has failed.

The case related to a video clip uploaded to Google-owned YouTube, which portrayed, using a blunt razorblade and fake blood, a woman cutting her wrists.

Russian regulators demanded the clip be removed, saying it provided information about how to kill oneself. Google complied, but filed an appeal, which has now been rejected by a Moscow court.

Google argued the clip was intended as entertainment rather than to promote actual suicide. In response to the ruling, Google said:

We do not believe the goal of the law was to limit access to videos that are clearly intended to entertain viewers.

The clip, entitled Video lesson on how to cut your veins , was deemed by Russian regulators to break strict new rules on web content thought to be harmful to children.

Perhaps it is relevant to note that the UK film censors of the BBFC used to cut sight of a particularly effective method of cutting veins when it was felt that not many people knew of this. The policy has now been adapted after the technique became more well known.

 

 

 

Update: Deputies Sworn In...

Russian parliamentary proposal to block web pages with strong language


Link Here 31st July 2013
Full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media