A New Internet Blacklist in Russia

A New Internet Blacklist in Russia

The Violentacrez affair made it all too visible how much horrible and filthy content there is freely available over the internet.  There is no question that we need to protect our children from exposure to that trash, but does that mean that we should accept just about any means to stop it?

What if it was only an excuse for the government to get means to control what is communicated over the internet and silence all the dissenting voices? Once the filtering infrastructure is deployed it is easy to target it to other goals. According to the Russian Pirate Party:

Amurmedia, the news from Khabarovsk (the far east of Russia). This site published materials related to corruption in Government of this region, police department, investigated cases of illegal spending in the region. Police came to the office of Amurmedia under the pretext of checking the editorial computers for using unlicensed software. Publishing work was paralyzed for several hours. Some of the computers were taken by the police for examination. Such cases occur almost every day with small companies without media support.

How much would you trust such a government not to abuse the new filtering laws?  How much would you trust any government in this matter? On Amendments to Federal Law On Protecting Children from Information Harmful to Their Health and Development and Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation is a Russian bill that entered into power on November 1st this year. There are already Internet filtering laws in Russia – this one just goes one more step in the same overall direction.

On the surface this is something nobody would oppose – who would not want our children to be better protected from all that internet filth?  It is how the government can use the infrastructure built for this internet filtering, the possibility of using this law as an excuse to shut down opposition websites that give us shivers.  There is no judicial oversight on the inclusion in the blacklists and the Russian Pirate Party fears that it can be used to silence their site at some nevralgic moment and a month later when their appelation is heard by the court it will be too late.

Pirates are not the only one to oppose this bill. The Presidential Council for the Development of Civil Society Institutions and Human Rights criticized the bill for several reasons.  The latest initiative in the fight against the bill is the RuBlackList website (in Russian) that will keep their own list of abuses of the official black list of sites that were improperly included on that list and, if necessary, instructions about alternative ways of accessing the blocked websites.

According to many sources Interned played an important role in the 2011 / 2012 Russian mass protests. Does it not seem suspicious that a few months later there is a plan for more control over the Internet communication?

Featured image: CC BY Paul Rassudov