Russia Wants To Censor The Internet

from the notice-a-pattern? dept

Get the feeling that folks in Russia are a bit jealous of China's Great Firewall? Suddenly, we're seeing lots of proposals that seem to be designed to limit what folks can do online. Just recently we wrote about efforts to require WiFi users to register with the government, and now Russian prosecutors are trying to extend "anti-extremism" laws to the internet. The laws apparently forbid newspapers from publishing "extremist material," at the risk of being shut down completely. Prosecutors are hoping that an internet version of the law would require ISPs to block access to any sites that include "extremist" content. Of course, extremist content is defined rather broadly. It seems pretty clear that this is just an attempt to try to stifle speech the government doesn't like.

Filed Under: censorship, internet, russia

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  1. identicon
    The Awnser, 25 Apr 2008 @ 5:16am

    WIKI "Extremism is a term used to describe the actions or ideologies of individuals or groups outside the perceived political center of a society; or otherwise claimed to violate common moral standards."

    The point about "extremism" is that the definition in its application in law, can easily be seen by the courts as a matter for the courts. Something can be extreme and harmless or extreme and harmful. The mere use of the word "extremism" is actually laying the framework for clamping down on free speech. i.e. censorship. The term is really inappropriate for the sort of application they seek. Interpretation of the word "extremism" can be so unclear and subjective, that its application in the courts can be used in a draconian way if they so choose with little accountability. Its such a cumbersome term because you basically have to be able to form a judgment of what's normal and what's not normal and what's far from normal for it to be considered to be extreme. I think the term clouds the interpretation of law and fails to provide adequate accountability in its application.

    I think the term "extremism" should not be used as its just confusing to society and it plays into he hands of those that have the power to administer the law, rather than those that wish to abide by the law. I think whatever the crime, it must be specifically identified and clear cut. For example you cannot incite by way of verbal or written threat, what might be deemed a criminal act.

    As indicated, one can have extreme views on all sorts of issues and be perfectly law abiding in application of those views or alternatively they can allow their views to commit a criminal offence. Conversely, you can be very normal but also commit a criminal act. i.e in the context that many acts of crime are not unusual and in fact are normal and not extreme, even though they may be illegal. In civil law the mere act of driving through a red light is not unusual and thus not extreme, but it is a breach of the civil laws of the land. In some cities stabbings and muggings are not unusual and thus not extreme, yet indeed they are criminal. Not sure how the Russian law works though as in Western law based on the British common law system, in cases of subjectivity, its usually what's considered reasonable by the average person.

    Thus I think the term "extremism" is inappropriate in its application with regard to administration of law and just provides the grounds and environment that allow the law to be used for unlawful and uncivil purposes by those that govern the application of law, rather than work in the peoples best interests.

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