Monday, August 29, 2016


Russia's Internet 'Blacklist' Law Sparks Free-Speech Fears

The law also targets sites that a Russian court has ruled extremist.
The law also targets sites that a Russian court has ruled extremist.
By Claire Bigg
Russian authorities have been given the green light to shut down websites carrying information deemed harmful to children.

A controversial new law came into effect on November 1 under which authorities can now close down sites promoting child pornography, suicide, or substance abuse, without the need for a court decision. The law also targets sites that a court has ruled extremist.

The legislation, formally intended to protect children from offensive Internet content, has prompted fears it could be co-opted to stifle the lively political debate taking place on the Russian Internet.

"This law can be seen as one of the elements that can, if the need arises, curb freedom of speech," information rights expert Ilya Rassolov says.

The law is the latest in a raft of restrictive bills pushed through parliament in recent months, including legislation that dramatically hiked fines on protesters, made libel a criminal offense, and forced foreign-funded nongovernmental organizations to register as "foreign agents."

Free-speech advocates say the creation of an Internet "blacklist" could lead to widespread censorship. Critics also fear the authorities could use the new legislation to block opposition websites by planting banned material.

Reporters Without Borders slammed the Russian government in a statement for failing to "resolve the law's contradictions and to eliminate those that pose threats to freedom."

'Sounds Like A Joke'

Russian Communications Minister Nikolai Nikiforov himself warned that the law could result in Russians being denied access to YouTube over its posting of a recent anti-Islam film that sparked deadly rioting across much of the Muslim world.

Communications Minister Nikolai Nikiforov: "All of YouTube could be blocked."Communications Minister Nikolai Nikiforov: "All of YouTube could be blocked."
Communications Minister Nikolai Nikiforov: "All of YouTube could be blocked."
Communications Minister Nikolai Nikiforov: "All of YouTube could be blocked."
"It sounds like a joke, but because of this video," he wrote on Twitter in September, "all of YouTube could be blocked throughout Russia."

For Russian Internet groups, there is the added concern that the new law could damage the appeal of the country's booming online industry.

In the run-up to the bill's adoption, the Russian-language version of Wikipedia shut down its page for one day in protest, and Yandex, Russia's top search engine, ran a black banner on its homepage.

"One thing Yandex and other Internet companies disapproved of was the possibility of IP blocking," Ochir Mandzhikov, a Yandex spokesman in Moscow, told RFE/RL. "This seems exaggerated to us since absolutely decent sites can be targeted for carrying bad content. We also consider that the list should be open so that people can better understand which sites are blocked and why. This lack of openness and transparency is generating concerns."

Mandzhikov said Yandex would nonetheless abide by the new law and hoped it will be implemented without "any excesses."

Hacker Attacks

Roskomnadzor, the federal service for the supervision of communications, information technology, and communications, has been tasked with implementing the new legislation.

It has opened a website to inform the public. But the site has yet to publish its "blacklist" of banned Internet resources. Users are instead asked to enter a specific web address to check whether it has been placed on the list.

Roskomnadzor says the site has already fought off several hacker attacks.

Under the new law, the owner of the site or web host must remove offensive content or block access within three days of being notified. If the site is still accessible after this period, Internet service providers are asked to shut it down.

Despite the controversy, a number of analysts say the law is a first step toward bringing some transparency to the Russian Internet.

Information rights expert Rassolov says the legislation will also make the "K" department, the Interior Ministry's cybercrime-busting agency, more accountable.

"As we speak, the 'K' department is closing websites. Every day, sites are shut down," Rassolov says. "The law simply spells out the rules of the game, the norms according to which this is done. Despite all the talk surrounding this law and how it can be used, it's still better to have transparent procedural norms than not. How this law will be implemented is another issue."

Claire Bigg

Claire Bigg covers Russia, Ukraine, and the post-Soviet world, with a focus on human rights, civil society, and social issues. Send story tips to​


This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Ben
November 02, 2012 15:46
Reserve your swastika for the 4.11 Russian march where the Western minion-Navalny will participate! There is no limites of idiocy in RFERL.
In Response

by: Ben
November 04, 2012 16:20
Hey Ben! Navalny reads RFERL and is staying home today-4.11!

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
November 03, 2012 10:17
By the way, talking about Russia, it's a pity again that the RFE/RL did not find it necessary to inform us about one fact that the Spanish media talks about a lot these days. Namely, the President of the Spanish autonomous region Catalunya Artur Mas - who is currently seeking independence for the region from Spain - went to MOSCOW on his first trip abroad allegedly aimed at gathering intl support for his secessinist project.
While the event might seem of minor importance ("irrelevant" for the purposes of this web-site, many will argue as usual), I would still like to point it out that it underlines the extent to which the situation in this "free" Europe changed over the last decade or so: if some 10 years ago, reps of such regions that aspired to seceed from Russia as Chechnya used to look for support in EU and NATO capitals, the CONTRARY is happening today: democratically elected leaders of regions keen to seceed from some West-European states (and the case of Arthur Mas and Catalunya is only one of quite a few) are looking for support in the Russian capital, the same way their predecessors did back in the 1930s during the last civil war in Spain.
In Response

by: Adolf Schiklgruber from: Eastern Reich
November 03, 2012 14:24
Well,I have just started a movement aiming for the Vienna folk to secede fro Austria and join the Eastern reich of Russia and I went to moscow for help,but they told me good old prez.Putin is ill withscarlet fever and cannot give me an audience,so I went to Jack and Vakhtang instead and they promised to supply me with AK `s but we still need your help so if you have money,boilers,guns or any Natashkas we can use please send as quick as possible to the Junkyards of History c/o Eujack,666Lubyanka str.,the middle of nowhere,that is mother Russia.
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
November 03, 2012 20:39
Well, Camel, I see that there is only one step from being "Anatürk" to being Adi. And yes, your style is UNIQUE, whichever nickname you use :-)).
In Response

by: Adolf Ataeugenio from: Der Prater
November 04, 2012 00:33
Aaah,meine liebling EU,you see things thru a glass darkly,problem is you cant understand anything,but keep up your kampf and rot/ten/ front,too!!!
In Response

by: Vakhtang from: Moscow
November 04, 2012 02:03
I want to thank the leadership of RL that they do not follow in the footsteps of Putin and do not create a black list and allowing to express their personal opinions to various wildlife species..
good move, camel !! can make good money !!
Thousands of Muscovites will come in the Circus, to see a camel named Adolf Schicklgruber..

Sorry dude, camel thorn not, you'll have to eat bran...

In Response

by: William from: Aragon
November 04, 2012 03:02
Picture it - Barcelona proving a Russian naval facility for their "peace and goodwill visits" would be worth some serious Putin financing.
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
November 04, 2012 19:00
Exactly, William, you just put your finger on it! But before that happens, many more things will have to happen in Spain that the RFE/RL will never inform us about, because those are "irrelevant" :-).

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
November 04, 2012 10:51
BY THE WAY, talking about Russia (and this story MIGHT be of interest even to those "investigative journalists" who work for the RFE/RL):
As some of you might know, Cyprus is supposed to be the next EU member-state that will soon start receiving money from this new European fond that is supposed to "save" heavily indebted EU member-states from an imminent bankruptcy.
But here is the German "intelligence" service BND leaking the information, according to which, "solving" Cyprus with the European money would in the first place imply helping those RUSSIAN businessmen/oligarchs who have their illegally earned money (Schwarzgeld) saved on accounts in Cypriot banks. According to this info, Russian account-holders have some US $ saved in banks located on the island, which represent "more than a yearly GDP of Cyprus" (most of which is allegedly earned illegally, the article suggests).
Thus "saving" the Cypriot banking system with the European money, the article argues, would be tantamount to helping the "Russian mafia" continue laundering their "dirty money" in the EU.
So, maybe this is just one more illustration of the ways in which today's Russia and "free" Europe are related to each other and of how much this relationship has actually changed over the last decade or so.
And I DO APOLOGIZE to those of you who feel distracted by this comment from other much more important topics that this web-site covers, such as the the sad life of Russian belugas or the fact that the South Park said something about the Pussy Riot :-).

by: Marina
November 08, 2012 10:54
by Kristina Gorelik

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