Russia is the latest country to enact laws that allows it to censor the Internet. The Russian version of Wikiepedia protested the bill by blacking out its website earlier, unfortunately, that didn’t stop the legislation from going into effect.
Internet censorship has become all the rage in recent years with governments all over the world falling over each other trying to find new ways of blocking “undesirable” content. Russia is simply the latest example of this censorship.
Yesterday, the Russian version of Wikipedia blacked out its website in protest of the censorship legislation.
The legislation was known as Bill 89417-6 and it would allow the government to give a website 24 hours to remove any content it doesn’t like. After that, if the content is still there, the site would be blacklisted by ISPs. What could be censored is anything deemed harmful to children, promotion of drugs or suicide or anything considered “illegal” under Russian law. The Russian version of Wikipedia has some information on the legislation (Google translated, Russian original)
This morning, the word is that the bill has passed to the distress of digital rights advocates.
The broad implications I see is that it makes using something like a Russian VPN less desirable because, for all we know, those services could be affected by this. More worrisome is that this could continue a disturbing trend where governments are more inclined to begin Internet censorship now that Russia has become the latest country to do this. It also won’t stop the content from entering Russia as more people would be more likely to use TOR, a proxy or VPN service to access whatever content the users want. If things get ugly, there’s also the world of onion sites which can be accessed through TOR as well. Content on such sites are substantially more difficult to censor. Fortunately, things haven’t gotten that bad, but we are certainly beginning to head into that direction.