from the that'll-work dept
Now that Sarkozy has been thrown out of office, France is no longer producing the steady stream of bad proposals for the Internet that it once generated. That has left an opening for some other country to take its place, and it seems that Russia is keen to pick up where Sarkozy left off. We've been reporting on previous worrying developments there, and TorrentFreak has news on another one:
According to information obtained by Vedomosti, publishers of music, books and software have put forward amendments [to Russia's existing anti-piracy law] which will place a huge burden of responsibility not just on regular websites but also on search engines such as Google and local outfit Yandex.
The idea is to create a huge whitelist of approved sites holding copyright materials, and Web sites and search engines will be obliged to use it when linking to works requested by users. As we reported back in February, one region was planning to try that approach in order to produce a "clean Internet." That's clearly impossible, and so is the latest proposal -- both in terms putting together a complete whitelist, and trying to refer to it. As Yandex is quoted as saying in the TorrentFreak piece, the idea could have a wider chilling effect on real-time discussions online:
The proposed amendments center around the creation of a national registry listing all music, software and books. This database will then be made available to search engines and site owners who will be required to consult it before servicing their users with links or content.
"[If the amendments go through], rightsholders will switch the entire Internet into pre-moderation mode, because sites can not accommodate any comment without full verification of all the materials located on the link in this comment. For the bulk of services, this task is impossible," Yandex concludes.
And it's not hard to see where this approach leads: replacing today's blacklists of sites that are blocked -- child pornography being the most obvious category -- to one of whitelists, which show the approved sites that aren't blocked. That's truly frightening, and not just for Russian users. As we've seen time and again, governments around the world have the awful habit of copying each other's ideas when it comes to regulating the Internet -- but usually only the bad ones. If this approach is brought in, it can only be a matter of time before people start calling for the same in other countries, citing Russia as an example of where it has already been implemented.