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November 1, 2012

Russia’s new internet blacklist law becomes effective

Free-speech advocates allege it may be used to block websites perceived as essential of the Russian state

By CBR Staff Writer

Russia has passed the new internet blacklist law which is aimed at protecting children from unsafe content by enabling the authorities to take sites offline.

Approved by Russia’s both houses of parliament and signed by President Vladimir Putin in July 2012, the new law allows authorities to blacklist and force websites to turn offline without a trial and demand internet service providers (ISP) and web firms block content it believes offensive.

Expected to enhance censorship in the country, the legislation will bar web-sites featuring child-unfriendly content, supporting use of drugs, suicides and issue child pornography.

Russia Telecom Minister Nikolai Nikiforov was quoted by Russian news agency TASS as saying that internet has always been a free territory.

"The government is not aimed at enforcing censorship there. LiveJournal, YouTube and Facebook showcase socially responsible companies," Nikiforov said.

"That means that they will be blocked only if they refuse to follow Russian laws, which is unlikely, in my opinion."

Further, the Russian search engine Yandex, the social media site and the Russian version of Wikipedia have objected the new law, claiming that it would increase internet censorship, while the free-speech advocates allege it may be used to block websites perceived as essential of the Russian state.

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