Is the Russian Gov’t Trying to Censor the Internet?


A relatively new law in Russia meant to protect children online might be being used to censor other content on the Internet, the New York Times says in a report.

The law, which was instituted in November, is meant to curb content that is related to child pornography, drug use and suicide. Sites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter might be called upon to remove some material if it violates this law.

But some think content beyond the realm of the law is being censored. For example, the Times pointed out a lawsuit filed by YouTube in February over a video demonstrating how to make a fake wound out of makeup. The video was meant for entertainment but was removed for violations.

The Times reports some thinking the law only opens the door to Internet censorship:

The child protection law, they say, builds a system for government officials to demand that companies selectively block individual postings, so that contentious material can be removed without resorting to a countrywide ban on, for example, Facebook or YouTube, which would reflect poorly on Russia’s image abroad and anger Internet users at home.


Anton Nosik, a blogger and journalist in Russia, called the law in a telephone interview “absurd, harmful and absolutely unnecessary.” But, he said, so long as regulators focus on genuinely macabre material like sites visited by people fascinated by suicide, he is not overly concerned about a crackdown on the videos and Web pages in the Russian blogosphere. “The track record of the authorities shows they are not going to enforce it strictly.”

Still, from what the Times reports, Twitter and Facebook have been cooperative and agreed with requests for posts to be taken down that were said to violate the law.

(H/T: SlashGear)