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Government to be able to block sites without court's permission

0 14 January 2014

At the end of December the Russian parliament passed a bill which will enable the government to block any sites which call for mass civil disobedience, terrorism or participation in unsanctioned meetings.  

At present Roskomnadzor, the Russian ministry responsible for policing the internet, has to get the permission of a court in order to block access to sites, but the new law will give it the right to act immediately. 

The bill was brought by deputies from three parties; Andrey Lugovoy (LDPR), Sergey Chindyaski (United Russia), and Nikolai Ivanov and Sergey Gavrilov (Communist Party), and it will amend the existing law “On Information, Information Technology and the Protection of Information”.

A site will be under threat if it displays any content that calls for mass disorder or terrorist/extremist activity, incites religious or ethnic hatred or encourages people to attend unsanctioned mass public meetings. How this would impact on Facebook and other sites which opposition activities have used to call for political protest is unclear.  

The demand to block access to a site must come from the Prosecutor General or one of his deputies, and can be made on the basis of information from federal, regional and local authorities as well as organisations or individuals.

The Prosecutor General then passes on this demand to Roskomnadzor, which relays it to internet operators, who are required by law to block access either to the site or to the illegal content displayed on it. 

Once the site owner has removed the illegal content he/she must report it to the relevant authorities, who will then take the necessary steps to restore access. The law comes into force on February 1. 

Top image via Shutterstock

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