Russia Using Internet Censorship Laws To Block Websites Of Opposition Candidate, Independent Media

from the because-that's-how-they-roll dept

A few years ago, we noted that Russia was pushing new internet censorship laws, officially to "protect the children." Of course, everyone knew that was a bogus reason, and the laws were used to silence reporters who were critical of the government as well as a bunch of blogs. It appears that the political censorship is ratcheting up even more with reports that the the blog of opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been blocked, along with a number of independent news sites.

That alone began getting some attention, and it appears that the Russian government followed it up by trying to play whac-a-mole with a variety of news sites, even taking down access to a radio station's website because it had posted a mirror of Navalny's blog.

The reason given for blocking the other media websites was that the "websites contain calls to illegal activity and participation in mass events that are conducted contrary to the established order." As for the blocking of Navalny's blog, which is updated by his wife, the government is claiming that since Navalny is under house arrest with orders not to communicate publicly, this blog violates that order, and therefore it's appropriate to censor it.

These excuses ring rather hollow for obvious reasons. And so far it certainly seems like this latest attempt at widespread censorship is, of course, calling a lot more attention to both the censorship attempt as well as what it was they're so eager to hide. In fact, Russians appear to be quickly routing around the censorship, because that's what you have to do in a country that regularly tries to censor what you can read.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    fogbugzd (profile), Mar 13th, 2014 @ 5:19pm

    It is only a small step from protecting the public against porn to protecting the public from opposing views.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    That One Guy (profile), Mar 13th, 2014 @ 5:36pm

    But hey, just because the Russian filter to 'protect the children' is being used to silence views and opinions that disagree with the current government or show when they're lying, that doesn't mean the UK or any similar 'filters' to 'protect the children' would ever be used in a similar fashion...


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    Alana (profile), Mar 13th, 2014 @ 6:06pm

    "Hey guys, wanted to get in early so we could block you before shit went down, guess you could say we RUSHEDYA."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2014 @ 7:20pm

    Same thing is happening in Venezuela... CONATEL even blocked Zello and has been working on blocking VPNs like Tunnelbear to stop block avoidance!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2014 @ 8:36pm

    And the wonderful part is, nobody, absolutely nobody in the western governments has any right to complain about it. They all lost that right when they started doing exactly the same, regardless which excuse they came up with.

    welcome the hell of your own making.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2014 @ 2:21am

    and this was unexpected? you know which country, across the pond, that is going to be broadening it's censorship? think about it! the one with the 'special relationship', that has taken over from the USA on behalf of Hollywood and the entertainment industries. it's even blocking on-line storage sites now! wont be long before it's worse than China, but still trying to bill itself as 'Democratic', a pillar of privacy and freedom'! load of liars!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    Niall (profile), Mar 14th, 2014 @ 2:28am

    What's notable is that Navalny took to re-blogging precisely because of the ongoing situation in the Crimea, exactly the sort of thing that Russia doesn't want any opposing views on to dilute its 'far-right takeover of Ukraine' cover story.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    Ninja (profile), Mar 14th, 2014 @ 3:49am

    These things are not proper for children accessing the intertubes. In fact, they need to take down more content. You know, political discussions are too much for their tiny brains. What about those western movies that contain all sorts of harmful propaganda and violence? Block them all!

    The problem of thinking of the children is that if you don't exclude them you'll simply cripple anything. Or, you know, you can treat them as fully functioning humans and opt for education an parental care instead. But that doesn't help the censorship-happy Govt, does it?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    Spaceman Spiff (profile), Mar 14th, 2014 @ 4:54am

    What biatch!

    If I were to call Phyllis a bitch, it would be correct, but it would be an insult to girl dogs everywhere! :rolleyes:

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2014 @ 6:04am

    Wait! Didn't they say they will only use that for child porn?

    How many times do we have to hear that from governments before we realize it's nothing but a LIE?

    Once the infrastructure for censorship is in place, they WILL use it against ANYTHING the government doesn't want to be talked about.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    vastrightwing, Mar 14th, 2014 @ 7:08am

    Waiting for the pot to call the kettle black

    I'm sure Russia has something equivalent to the DMCA, so anyone trying to get around the act of censoring will be breaking the law. After all, if it's good enough for us, it should be for everyone. No attempting to communicate when the government doesn't like what you're trying to say.

    Lying is today's new normal. It's for your own good, for the children. Now the issue is we've been crying wolf so long now, how will we know when it really is for the sake of the children? We won't.

    If the US condemns this in any way, Putin simply has to mention NSA, or ICE, and that will be the end. Our own credibility is torn to shreds. We have no moral high ground.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    zip, Mar 14th, 2014 @ 7:15am

    At least Russia is a DMCA-free zone, and censorship due to copyright claims - whether real, imagined, or outright lies - is virtually nonexistent. Like it or not, sending false copyright claims is a major form of 'backdoor' censorship here in the US.

    Because Russian site does not automatically remove videos on every bogus copyright claim as YouTube does, it is much less censored than American sites such as YouTube.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Kirion, Mar 14th, 2014 @ 7:33am


    Except of course Russian Parliament just passed the law that allows blocking any site after copyright claim on any type of content

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Matthew, Mar 17th, 2014 @ 8:33am

    Controlling the people's perception is key to cooperation. It's a scary thing when the government controls what we see and makes us begin to believe...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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