Russian State Duma is seeking to slap a comprehensive digital blacklist on a number of websites. Civil rights activists believe this may be a plan to censor.

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Government around the world are seeking newer and more advanced ways to control the internet somehow. While some of these attempts are well-intentioned, for instance to block drugs-related and underage-pornography websites, these well-intentioned attempts usually don’t pan out well enough. Same seems to be the case with Russia.


Wikipedia Duma Protest
A bill has been introduced in the lower house of the Russian parliament, called the State Duma. The bill seeks a comprehensive digital blacklist of all such websites which involve drug ads, pornography or promote suicide or other extremist ideas.

Naturally, while some of this needs to be done, using a blanket ban to address these issues is never going to work. But again, politicians, as always, don’t know much about internet and all their attempts to ‘handle’ the internet on their own without the collaboration of relevant people goes to naught.

Civil rights activists and internet providers in Russia are actively opposing this bill, calling this an attempt by the State Duma to somehow censor the internet in Russia. And these contentions seem quite valid since a number of times, governments have used similar pretexts to somehow censor the internet.

A federal agency, appointed by the government, will have the power to make decision as to what websites are to come under this blanket ban. Also, courts will also be able to make recommendations to this agency to have different websites blocked. Opponent of the bill call this a futile attempt to accomplish the stated goals, since there will always be a lot of ways to circumvent the ban. Rather, the bill can, in the long run, become a political tool for the government to suppress freedom of speech.

Protesting the attempt of the government to pass the bill, Wikipedia in Russia has shut down the website for today. In protest of the bill the Wikipedia Russia home page contains a redacted logo and some text that reads, “The Wikipedia community protests against censorship, dangerous to free knowledge, open to all mankind. We ask you to support us in opposing this bill.” Wikipedia had launched a similar protest when US government tried to pass SOPA and its protest, in collaboration with Google, was very effective. It remains to be seen how effective this move by Russian Wikipedia will be in Russia.

Resource: State Duma’s Bill

Courtesy: Slash dot


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