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Russia Issues New Law For Internet Censorship

For the Protection of Children (or the Government)

It's no secret that Russia has some political problems. Now, the government tries to influence the internet by adding some aspects to the Russian "Act of Information" which allows to filter or even deactivate sites altogether. The (official) reason behind this is that they want to protect the innocence of the children and therefore ban sites showing child pornography or instructions for suicide (Russia has an extremely high suicide rate among teenagers).

Yuri Vdovin, an official from a Russian human rights organisation has a sceptical perception towards the whole process and told The Escapist:

"Of course there are websites that should not be accessible to children, but I don't think it will be limited to that, [...] The government will start closing other sites - any democracy-oriented sites are at risk of being taken offline. [...] There are lots of harmful websites out there already, for example, fascist sites - and they could have easily been closed down by now - but no, [the government] doesn't care, there are no attempts to do so."

The black list of evil websites isn't handled by elected persons so a misuse of this authority is quite possible. However, the Russian minister for telecommunications, Nikolai Nikiforov, said that such allegations are unreasonable since they don't want to enforce censorship but simply take out those site that don't respect the Russian laws.

Still, as the German site netzpolitik.org reports, the censorship possibilities are enormous. According to them, the Russian intelligence agency FSB can gain access to data about the users of such critical sites much easier. And it's doubtful whether it's their task to care about the suicidal tendencies of teenagers. Many critics of the Russian government are confident that the real motivation of this law isn't youth protection but to cement the current power relations. This is in line with statements of the officials of the agency in charge of the tasks this law introduces, which say that they expect that it will be used for other purposes, as well (e.g. damaging unpleasant competitioners). One official even said to the German TV channel ZDF that this is not a problem since it's already the case in the offline world. Well, then...

Release: Nov 03, 2012 - Author: Jim - Translator: Mike Lowrey - Source: The Escapist

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