Latest Russian Censorship Move: Banning Internet Memes Using Photos Of Celebrities
from the just-putin-it-out-there dept
For a while now, Techdirt has been tracking the continuing efforts of the Russian government to rein in the Internet, at the cost of squeezing much of the life out of it. As an article on Global Voices reports, this has now reached ridiculous levels:
Russian censors have determined that one of the most popular forms of Internet meme is illegal. According to Roskomnadzor, the Kremlin’s media watchdog, it’s now against the law to use celebrities’ photographs in a meme, “when the image has nothing to do with the celebrity’s personality.”
Roskomnadzor’s statement is the result of a decision by a court in Moscow, which decided that a particular photo meme violated the privacy of Russian singer Valeri Syutkin — the Global Voices post has the fascinating details. Although no new law is involved, Roskomnadzor’s power is such that it is able to make these kinds of rule changes — and enforce them. Along with a ban on the use of celebrities’ photographs in what are termed “image macros,” the new ruling also forbids the creation of parody accounts or sites (original in Russian.) The key problem with the image macro part is the following:
Roskomnadzor’s vague new policy threatens to do more than crack down on potentially defamatory juxtaposition, however. By saying it is illegal to add celebrities’ images to memes that “have nothing to do with the celebrity’s personality,” the Kremlin could be opening the door to banning a whole genre of absurdist online humor.
Even if the policy is not rigorously enforced, it could have a chilling effect on the Russian online space, already under pressure because of previous censorship moves. And that’s probably precisely what the authorities are seeking to achieve here. After all, when it comes to Russian celebrities’ photographs with witty captions, what name springs to mind?