Russia Orders Bloggers To 'Register'; Outlaws Anonymous Blogging, Continues Clampdown On Social Media

from the where-will-it-end? dept

As we've reported, Russia has been steadily trying to bring the Internet under control with ever-more stringent measures. After tackling general Web sites through powers that allow them to be blocked more easily, it now seems to be the turn of the bloggers, as this report from the ITAR-TASS News Agency on a recently-approved law explains:

The law introduces a new term: "Internet user called blogger." Bloggers will be obliged to declare their family name and initials and e-mail address. Those authors whose personal website or page in social networks has 3,000 visitors or more a day must have themselves registered on a special list and abide by restrictions applicable to the mass media. In other words, registration requires the blogger should check the authenticity of published information and also mention age restrictions for users. Also, bloggers will have to follow mass media laws concerning electioneering, resistance to extremism and the publication of information about people’s private lives. An abuse of these requirements will be punishable with a fine of 10,000 to 30,000 rubles (roughly $300 to $1,000) for individuals and 300,000 rubles ($10,000) for legal entities. A second violation will be punishable with the website's suspension for one month.
Clearly those onerous conditions are designed to make any blogger think twice or three times before publishing anything at all controversial or embarrassing for the authorities. The article notes that the new law may be challenged before Russia's Constitutional Court, and that there's a huge loophole in the form of blogs located overseas, which are not covered by the legislation. The fear has to be that the Russian government will now move on to blocking them too. Moreover, not content with intimidating independent blogs, the Russian authorities also seem to be tightening their grip on VKontakte, the Russian Facebook. As Ars Technica reports:
Pavel Durov, the founder of Vkontakte (VK) -- the largest social network in Russia -- said on Tuesday that he fled the country one day after being forced out of the company, claiming that he felt threatened by Kremlin officials.

In a post on his profile page on Monday, Durov explained that he was fired from his position as CEO of VK and that the so-called "Russian Facebook" is now "under the complete control" of two oligarchs close to President Vladimir Putin.
His removal is probably connected with his longstanding refusal to censor content on VKontakte:
Durov explained that after seven years of relative social media freedom in Russia, his refusal to share user data with Russian law enforcement has set him at odds with the Kremlin, which has recently been trying to tighten its grip on the Internet, according to The Moscow Times.

VK's former CEO says that despite his multiple refusals of Kremlin requests to censor his site in a similar fashion to how it filters print and TV news, the site -- which boasts 143 million registered users globally, 88 million of whom are based in Russia -- is now effectively under state control.
What's sad here is that, as we've noted ruefully before, in the wake of revelations about NSA and GCHQ spying, the West is no longer in a position to criticize this kind of censorship and surveillance. As the latest moves indicate, the Russian authorities seem intent on taking full advantage of that fact.

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Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    icon
    Violynne (profile), Apr 24th, 2014 @ 7:49am

    Putin assures the world they're not spying on those users, so it's all good.

    I couldn't keep from laughing out loud as I typed this.

    In other news, Mail.ru is launching a North American version of its popular email application.

    Sign me up! I'll be sure to tell Putin how I feel about him and he can read it himself.
    >:]

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Glen, Apr 24th, 2014 @ 9:01am

    Russia: Blazing a path for the United States.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2014 @ 9:14am

    considering the aim of the Internet was for the free-flow of information everywhere, a lot of countries are doing the exact opposite and that includes so-called democratic countries like here and the UK!!funny how all countries want that very thing until it is their particular country that is under the spotlight!!

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2014 @ 9:29am

      Re:

      You seem to misunderstand political speech. A free flow of information everywhere applies to that from politicians and government to the subjects... oops I mean citizens... and from the citizens to the government. It does not mean a free flow of information between citizens as that can lead voting politicians out of office, protests that the politicians have to take note off, rebellion, anarchy and other outcomes that hurt the government and politicians.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2014 @ 9:22am

    The "west" can still criticize

    Even in the wake of revelations about NSA and GCHQ spying: in the "west" bloggers have no requirements for a "papers, please" registration.

    They have just managed to leapfrog the "west", and are now open to criticism again, until the "west" decides to require registration for bloggers.

     

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    •  
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      John Fenderson (profile), Apr 24th, 2014 @ 9:25am

      Re: The "west" can still criticize

      "in the "west" bloggers have no requirements for a "papers, please" registration."

      Yet. It's worth pointing out that there have, in years past, been a number of legislative proposals to enact very similar requirements in the US.

       

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    •  
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      Ninja (profile), Apr 24th, 2014 @ 9:29am

      Re: The "west" can still criticize

      Who will win this Orwellian race? Stay tuned for more censorship, mass surveillance and police states!

       

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    •  
      identicon
      Immigration Officer, Apr 24th, 2014 @ 11:46am

      Re: The "west" can still criticize

      Glory to Arstotzka!

       

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  •  
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    Ninja (profile), Apr 24th, 2014 @ 9:28am

    Yes they can. Because nukes.

     

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  •  
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    sophisticatedjanedoe (profile), Apr 24th, 2014 @ 9:30am

    If you can read Russian, the original bill is here.

    RuBlackList.net is a one-stop ultimate resource if you are interested in the topic of Russian government's assault on the Internet (again, if you can read Russian, alas...).

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Vic, Apr 24th, 2014 @ 9:54am

      Re:

      Thanks for the link! Interesting details, including the mention that even the Russian Supreme Court negatively responded to those newly proposed laws (there were three of them, obviously).

       

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      •  
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        sophisticatedjanedoe (profile), Apr 24th, 2014 @ 11:08am

        Re: Re:

        There are three bills in so called "anti-terror block," the most egregious proposals. As for all the bills that affect Russian Net in the negative way, there are currently twenty.

        Some are related to His Holiness Copyright, some not. From the latter category:

        • A proposal to ban images of people killed in accidents;

        • A proposal to ban images depicting animal cruelty;

        • A proposal to ban texts (!) describing sex with underage persons (ohai, Nabokov!);

        • A proposal to ban astrology, fortune telling etc. ;

        • An attempt to introduce time zones: show information not suitable for children only from midnight to 7 am (facepalm);

        • A proposal to restrict foreign-made internet hardware;

        • A proposal to ban “untrue” information about banks;

        • A proposal to ban (and criminalize) online gambling;

        • A proposal to ban “untrue” information that shows defenders of the country, Russian Federation, USSR and Russian Empire in the negative light.

         

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        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2014 @ 11:42am

          Re: Re: Re:

          A proposal to ban astrology, fortune telling etc.


          What.

           

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            sophisticatedjanedoe (profile), Apr 24th, 2014 @ 12:07pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Google translation from the link above (quite accurate):

            11. Draft Law 440359-6

            Initiators: MPs M.I.Serdyuk, A.A.Yuschenko, V.A.Krupennikov, S.A.Poddubny, A.B.Vyborny

            Name : "On Amendments to the Federal Law " On advertising " restrictions on the spread of the negative impact of the activities of astrologers, fortune-tellers, magicians, spiritualists , psychics and other persons engaged in similar actions under different names (witch doctor, wizard, psychic, seer, judge, specialist, consultant, etc.)"

            Date of application: 29.01.2014

            Stage: a preliminary examination by the State Duma.
            Date of Event : 04/09/2014

             

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        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2014 @ 12:56pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Those are all strongly moral conservative proposals (conservative in the meaning of avoiding moral decay).

          The common problem of such laws are: How do you define the delineations objectively so a court can interpret them sensibly?

          An opt-out moral conservative filter as Britain is using is one thing. A law is a far more serious step to guard "traditional values".

           

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            John Fenderson (profile), Apr 24th, 2014 @ 2:13pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "(conservative in the meaning of avoiding moral decay)"

            Now there's an interesting definition of "conservative". But it's far too vague -- pretty much everyone is in favor of avoiding "moral decay", regardless of where they stand in the political landscape.

             

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            •  
              identicon
              Pragmatic, Apr 29th, 2014 @ 5:55am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              What John Fenderson said. Conservative, meaning "upholding and promoting traditional moral standards" is probably what you meant to say.

              While there are some very unsavory people out there who use sensationalist content to get attention, they are not the problem; it's a demand-side issue. When we stop responding to egregiously distasteful items and reject them, people will stop or reduce posting them.

              Anyone who genuinely wants to uphold and promote traditional moral standards needs to begin by setting a good example and providing wholesome alternatives to the extant media content.

              That authoritarians feel the need to impose their subjective notions of wholesomeness on the rest of us is problematic at best, dangerous at most. In any case, as the problem of the existence of unsavory content is demand-side, they may find that the people they are trying to control have discovered workarounds and that the best they can hope for is control theater.

              That's the main reason I'm opposed to censorship. It simply doesn't work. If alternative content doesn't work, you're failing to engage with your audience. Get that right and you'll get people on board. The Russian approach will go the way of all censorship - it'll quietly backfire and all but the least technically adept will be able to route around it.

               

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        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2014 @ 10:51pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          A proposal to ban texts (!) describing sex with underage persons (ohai, Nabokov!);


          While that is a pointless and unreasonable law (since it doesn't actually protect any child from any mistreatment), it isn't particularly unusual

           

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  •  
    identicon
    Mr. Large Prostrate, Apr 24th, 2014 @ 11:17am

    The Blog Nazi

    No free speech for you!

     

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    Joseph Ratliff (profile), Apr 24th, 2014 @ 11:51am

    Where the U.S. is headed in 10 - 30 years?

    Drink it in, the U.S. is headed here in 10 - 30 years. Not just being watched ... but FORCED to be watched and punished if we don't comply, or say anything against "The Union."

    I know there are examples of this now, but I'm referring to where it becomes law, is enforced, and our idea of freedom is altered dramatically.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2014 @ 8:30pm

    The internet is turning into the propaganda net, for governments. I find it remarkable how scared the ruling class is of freedom of thought and expression.

    It reminds me of religious leaders in the olden days, and Middle-Ease, condemning people of 'blasphemy'. In other words, punishing those speaking out against their religious beliefs.

    Now it appears 'blasphemy' is making a comeback in the political arena. Punishing those who speak out against the political beliefs of those currently in power.

    Except in the political arena, 'blasphemy' has been renamed to 'extremism', but they're one in the same.

    That's what all this censorship has always been about. Maintaining power through suppression and oppression.

    It may be a new decade, century, or millennium in human history, but not much has changed or evolved with the human race.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Adam Methew, Apr 24th, 2014 @ 11:51pm

    Fab Post

    Great post. Its really informative and so much helpful for us. Thanks for share.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    David, Apr 25th, 2014 @ 4:32pm

    I posted this story to Slashdot last year

    http://beta.slashdot.org/story/183519

    "The Guardian warns that Bloggers in the U.K. could face costly fines for libel with exemplary damages imposed if they do not sign up with a new press regulator under legislation (Clause 21A — Awards of exemplary damages) recommended by The Leveson Inquiry into press behavior and ethics. Kirsty Hughes, the chief executive of Index on Censorship, said this a 'sad day' for British democracy. 'This will undoubtedly have a chilling effect on everyday people's web use.' Exemplary damages, imposed by a court to penalize publishers who remain outside regulation, could run into hundreds of thousands of pounds, easily enough to close down smaller publishers such as Private Eye and local newspapers. Harry Cole, who contributes to the Guido Fawkes blog says he does not want to join a regulator, he hopes his blog will remain as irreverent and rude as ever, and continue to hold public officials to account; its servers are located in the U.S. Members of Parliament voted on Clause 21A late last night, it passed 530 to 13."

     

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  •  
    identicon
    psychic readings, May 2nd, 2014 @ 1:01am

    psychic readings

    Fortune Teller Online Is Possible?

    Fortune Teller Online Reading is a very common and popular thing today and you can be sure that when you are contacting a real good psychics they will know exactly all the details they need to know about you even if it means that the psychic reading is being made over the phone or by email. You can as well try to do a psychic test to the medium that you are in contact with, if he is a good psychic he wouldn`t mind having you asking him any question you want and will recognized that you are testing him.

     

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  •  
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    davidbarcomb (profile), Nov 25th, 2014 @ 9:16pm

    This article is really good.

     

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


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