Russia has recently begun enforcing a law which requires Internet sites to block content that is harmful to children or includes other illegal content. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter say they have received and complied with requests to block access to certain posts and pages.
Andrew E. Kramer with The New York Times reported, “The Russian government in recent weeks has been making use of a new law that gives it the power to block Internet content that it deems illegal or harmful to children. The country’s communications regulators have required Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to remove material that the officials determined was objectionable, with only YouTube, owned by Google, resisting.”
PCMag’s Stephanie Mlot added, “The child protection law, which took effect in November, allows a Russian regulatory agency known as Roskomnadzor to blacklist ‘illegal’ websites pedaling suicide, drug use, ‘extremist’ propaganda, or other content contrary to the Russian government. The bill was approved in July after it was altered slightly in an effort to appease those opposed. Immediate blacklisting only occurs for sites with images of child abuse or content that promotes drugs or suicide.”
Fast Company’s Kit Eaton noted, “Facebook, for example, was asked by Russia’s regulators to take down a page that they were concerned promoted suicide. The social network had until Sunday to comply, and did so, having decided that the page was not in the interest of general public health. Twitter is also said to have complied with some requests to block local access to some posts.”
Daily Tech’s Tiffany Kaiser observed, “While the law is aimed to protect children from seeing harmful content on the internet, some fear that the government could abuse it. Right now, there are a lot of Facebook groups that oppose President Vladimir V. Putin, and the government could remove such pages staging protests. Likely, many are hoping Russia doesn’t eventually lead to heavy internet censorship like China and Iran. Iran just announced last month that it was beefing up its internet censorship with a proxy crackdown.”