Wikipedia blackout in protest to censorship
Russia’s State Duma debates a draft legislation this week providing for an internet blacklist. Civil Rights organizations fear real censorship and the Russian-language segment of Wikipedia protests the bill by closing down its portal.
“Imagine a world without free knowledge,” is all you get on your screen when accessing Wikipedia’s Russian pages on Tuesday. The world’s largest free on-line encyclopedia is protesting several amendments to existing laws, which together makes a register for websites containing illegal content.
Wikipedia is expected to stay offline for 24 hours.
The coming blacklist of internet sites will be managed by Roskomnadzor, Russia’s communications regulator. Also, security services like FSB could add internet sites to the list if they conclude a portal contains extremist content.
The amendments to the law, named “Act for Information,” will have its second reading in the State Duma this week, following the first reading last Friday.
Opponents to introducing a blacklist censoring web portals fear it is an attempt by Kremlin to introduce a China-style censorship, which can block-out any critical information at any time.
“We believe it is very important to stop the implementation of censorship on the Russian-language section of the internet,” Russia’s Presidential Council for Human Rights said in a statement on Tuesday, according to Financial Times.
Forbes reports that then-president Dmitri Medvedev last year said the government would not restrict internet access. With Vladimir Putin in office, the restriction on internet is likely not be stopped.
In addition to Wikipedia, interet giants like Google, Yandex and Mail.ru have called for a public scrutiny of the bill. Information Minister Nikolay Nikiforov also voiced doubt over the legislation, saying it had a dubious enforcement mechanism, reports Russia Today.
Deputies from all major parties in the State Duma argue that the blacklist would curb the spread of internet pornography and propaganda of extremism, RIA Novosti reports.
Over the last year, internet has played a crucial role in disseminating opposition views through social networking sites like Vkontakte, Facebook and Twitter and is also used to coordinate anti-Putin protests.