The Russian parliament was Wednesday set to vote into law a contentious
bill that activists fear will introduce Internet censorship by
blacklisting sites deemed as undesirable.
The amendments to an
existing information law are being promoted as a crackdown on child
pornography, creating a federal register that would rule out websites
carrying banned information and oblige site owners and providers to
close down the sites.
The Russian-language version of Wikipedia
went on strike the day earlier in protest at the bill. “Imagine a world
without free knowledge,” it said, blocking access to the site. The site
was back up on Wednesday.
The bill has been scheduled for approval
in second and third readings Wednesday after the initial reading last
Friday, with next to no debate or public discussion.
biggest search engine Yandex said the bill’s proposed methods to fight
pornography “create room for possible misuse and raise questions from
Internet users and company representatives.”
cannot be taken hastily, the way it is happening now,” said the
statement signed by the company’s chief editor Yelena Kolmanovskaya. The
engine’s slogan “Everything will be found” had the word ‘everything’
crossed out on the main page on Wednesday.
An expert on Russia’s
security services, Andrei Soldatov, said the bill would introduce a
technical possibility of blocking foreign sites for the first time by
forcing Internet providers to install special equipment.
it will be possible to use it not just against websites propagating
pornography; the government will be able to use these instruments any
way it wants,” he wrote on his website Agentura.ru.
amendments can lead to introduction of censorship to Russian Internet,”
said Livejournal, a popular blogging platform frequently used by
opposition leaders for communicating with their audience.
deputies on Wednesday decried what they said was a trend of introducing
restrictive bills at short notice and ramming them through without any
“We are turning the parliament into an
secretarial office that carries out somebody else’s wishes,” opposition
deputy Gennady Gudkov of the Just Russia party said at the hearings.