Russia Begins Censoring Websites

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Russia Begins Censoring Websites

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A new law allows the government to shut down sites it deems inappropriate for its children.

Censorship is bad for humans. There. I said it. The internet has done some wonderful things in the last 20 years or so to allow even people in nations under strict government control to communicate freely. But unfortunately, a new law in Russia might throw all that freedom of information out the window. An extension to the country's present Act for Information, adopted by the legislature and signed by Vladimir Putin in July, went into effect this week. The new law creates a "blacklist" of websites the government can shut down to protect innocent children, stating the intention is to control websites with child pornography or instructions on how to commit suicide, for example. The world's thought leaders, however, don't think the blacklist will be limited to just pornography.

"Of course there are websites that should not be accessible to children, but I don't think it will be limited to that," said Yuri Vdovin, an official from a human rights organization based in Russia. "The government will start closing other sites - any democracy-oriented sites are at risk of being taken offline."

To prove his point, Vdovin says the law will only target websites to which the Russian government is politically opposed. "There are lots of harmful websites out there already, for example, fascist sites - and they could have easily been closed down by now - but no, [the government] doesn't care, there are no attempts to do so," he said.

One potential problem with the new law is that the blacklist will be maintained by unelected officials by Russia's equivalent to the FCC and the contents of the list won't be disclosed to the public. The chance for abuse of power seems high to those opposed to the law.

Russian Telecom Minister Nikolai Nikiforov said the allegations of censorship were unfounded. "The government is not aimed at enforcing censorship there," he said on Tuesday and he specifically stated that major hubs would not be affected "LiveJournal, YouTube and Facebook showcase socially responsible companies. That means that they will be blocked only if they refuse to follow Russian laws, which is unlikely, in my opinion."

China already strictly enforces censorship of its internet, vigorously taking down capitalist or protest-oriented websites and inhibiting major searches engines like Google. To think that Russia might follow suit would be a huge blow to the freedom of information across the world. Here's hoping Russia doesn't abuse the powers it has created for itself.

Source: BBC and Voice of Russia

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Russian censorship isn't news anymore :(

I have the utmost faith that the Russian government will in no way abuse its power. After all, there's no precedent of any sort for this sort of thing ending absolutely terribly for the average citizen since the Russian government has a track record of nothing but fairness and democracy.

Just another step toward world-wide totalitarianism.

Hey every country does something like this.

Though in Canada its mostly just child porn that they target.
I think.

Hmm I should look into Canadian censorship before I say anything.

Reminds me of Hitler and how he arrested his political opponents and had all their newspapers closed down...Dark days.

I suppose black-bagging political & social dissenters just doesn't cut it these days

In Soviet Russia, Internet browses you!

I think this is one of the only times where that joke is actually tied to the reality of the situation.

Falterfire:
I have the utmost faith that the Russian government will in no way abuse its power. After all, there's no precedent of any sort for this sort of thing ending absolutely terribly for the average citizen since the Russian government has a track record of nothing but fairness and democracy.

I'd go as far to replace "Russian" with "any" in that sarcastic post. Wikileaks, Megaupload? Legitimacy of those actions is not part of the equation here, but what were those actions if not internet censorship?

And last time I checked, we don't punish people for what they might do, so until the Russian government actually does anything worthy of criticism in this field, I shall not criticize them.

Vegosiux:
I'd go as far to replace "Russian" with "any" in that sarcastic post. Wikileaks, Megaupload? Legitimacy of those actions is not part of the equation here, but what were those actions if not internet censorship?

And last time I checked, we don't punish people for what they might do, so until the Russian government actually does anything worthy of criticism in this field, I shall not criticize them.

Indeed. Any government (and in fact every government) is willing to abuse their power for the 'common good', (see: ACTA, SOPA) but some have worse reputations than others. (Though ultimately that becomes a question somewhat akin to 'which Old God is the least friendly')

But although we don't punish for what hasn't happened yet, preventing problems tends to save a lot of headache. If somebody comes at you with a knife and an evil grin in a dark alleyway, you don't just stand there smiling in case he's just enthusiastic about selling fine cutlery.

The only way to stop governments from abusing power is to stop them from getting power which can only be abused. Censoring the internet tends to be one of those powers that has much fewer legitimate uses than proponents claim while having quite a few ways to abuse it.

I have no doubt that, that it will be abused in minor ways. Shutting the websites of the opposition though? Doubt it. They can hardly accuse them of having porn or suicide tips on their sites.

Putin and Co. are accustomed to subtle manipulation and generally use backhanded ways to get what they want. They aren't stupid enough to bludgeon their way through Internet.

Personally I think Putin is just jealous that other governments have stolen Russia's thunder as the #1 source of Bond villains.

image

Or maybe Putin is just an actual Bond villain that managed to tear open the fabric of space time, so he could carry out his plans in a world free of that meddlesome 007. Of course it's only a matter of time before MI-6 does the same thing, and one of the many Bonds comes screaming out of the nether in a fiery explosion to kick him in the face then sleep with his wife.

Vegosiux:

I'd go as far to replace "Russian" with "any" in that sarcastic post. Wikileaks, Megaupload? Legitimacy of those actions is not part of the equation here, but what were those actions if not internet censorship?

Wikileaks (at least) was a different matter. Wikileaks was dealing with and exposing stolen classified material, regardless of the damage that such information could have caused.

Greg Tito:
Here's hoping Russia doesn't abuse the powers it has created for itself.

Powers like these are created specifically to be abused. This does not bode well for the future of the internet.

twistedmic:

Wikileaks (at least) was a different matter. Wikileaks was dealing with and exposing stolen classified material, regardless of the damage that such information could have caused.

Yes, I understand that, but that doesn't make it "not censorship". And as long as a state argues "interests of national security" as the reason for taking a site down, that's pretty much that, because it falls under state sovereignty. Sure you can be critical of it, but you don't really have any grounds to make them stop doing it.

You can try to make your own state doing it, as ACTA/SOPA outrage would attest to, at least, however.

Falterfire:

Vegosiux:
I'd go as far to replace "Russian" with "any" in that sarcastic post. Wikileaks, Megaupload? Legitimacy of those actions is not part of the equation here, but what were those actions if not internet censorship?

And last time I checked, we don't punish people for what they might do, so until the Russian government actually does anything worthy of criticism in this field, I shall not criticize them.

Indeed. Any government (and in fact every government) is willing to abuse their power for the 'common good', (see: ACTA, SOPA) but some have worse reputations than others. (Though ultimately that becomes a question somewhat akin to 'which Old God is the least friendly')

But although we don't punish for what hasn't happened yet, preventing problems tends to save a lot of headache. If somebody comes at you with a knife and an evil grin in a dark alleyway, you don't just stand there smiling in case he's just enthusiastic about selling fine cutlery.

The only way to stop governments from abusing power is to stop them from getting power which can only be abused. Censoring the internet tends to be one of those powers that has much fewer legitimate uses than proponents claim while having quite a few ways to abuse it.

I give you a gold star, to the head of the class.

Our own government is looking for more control also, seems the whole world is going this way, tho i suspect motivations might vary, our nation is motivated by music and movie industry that wants to bring down every torrent site it can find via google. i suspect putin is motivated by his dreams of stalin and wanting to crush any and all opposition.

Hey, look, it must be sensationalism o'clock! The fact that they haven't actually censored anything yet, and have only said that they'll take down websites that most western nations already do apparently doesn't matter because they're Russia, therefore they must be evil!

Greg Tito:

"Of course there are websites that should not be accessible to children, but I don't think it will be limited to that," said Yuri Vdovin, an official from a human rights organization based in Russia. "The government will start closing other sites - any democracy-oriented sites are at risk of being taken offline."

To prove his point, Vdovin says the law will only target websites to which the Russian government is politically opposed. "There are lots of harmful websites out there already, for example, fascist sites - and they could have easily been closed down by now - but no, [the government] doesn't care, there are no attempts to do so," he said.

"The government hasn't taken down websites which express a political viewpoint... THEREFORE THE GOVERNMENT'S GONNA START TAKING DOWN WEBSITES WHICH EXPRESS POLITICAL VIEWPOINTS!"
What a fucking genius!

cerebus23:
i suspect putin is motivated by his dreams of stalin and wanting to crush any and all opposition.

"He's a corrupt politican, and he's Russian... THEREFORE HE MUST LOVE STALIN!"
Look guys, we've got ourselves another genius over here!

Vegosiux:

twistedmic:

Wikileaks (at least) was a different matter. Wikileaks was dealing with and exposing stolen classified material, regardless of the damage that such information could have caused.

Yes, I understand that, but that doesn't make it "not censorship". And as long as a state argues "interests of national security" as the reason for taking a site down, that's pretty much that, because it falls under state sovereignty. Sure you can be critical of it, but you don't really have any grounds to make them stop doing it.

Actually, the knowledgeable sales, purchasing, and distribution of stolen goods is already illegal. Wikileaks knowingly bought and then distributed stolen "goods." Shutting them down is akin to confiscating the stolen property. This is why the censorship argument fails. Assange openly admitted to purchasing stolen goods and not alerting authorities to the sellers, both of which were criminal acts. He was effectively participating in political espionage and the US had the right to prevent that information from being released.

The Plunk:
Hey, look, it must be sensationalism o'clock! The fact that they haven't actually censored anything yet, and have only said that they'll take down websites that most western nations already do apparently doesn't matter because they're Russia, therefore they must be evil!

Greg Tito:

"Of course there are websites that should not be accessible to children, but I don't think it will be limited to that," said Yuri Vdovin, an official from a human rights organization based in Russia. "The government will start closing other sites - any democracy-oriented sites are at risk of being taken offline."

To prove his point, Vdovin says the law will only target websites to which the Russian government is politically opposed. "There are lots of harmful websites out there already, for example, fascist sites - and they could have easily been closed down by now - but no, [the government] doesn't care, there are no attempts to do so," he said.

"The government hasn't taken down websites which express a political viewpoint... THEREFORE THE GOVERNMENT'S GONNA START TAKING DOWN WEBSITES WHICH EXPRESS POLITICAL VIEWPOINTS!"
What a fucking genius!

"They've only said..."

Stop right there. You're trusting a government to stick to their word? That's not sensationalism to assume they won't, that's an assumption that can be made based on looking at any government in the world, what they've promised and what they've actually done.

Maybe its just because I live in England and wouldn't trust my government to change a fucking lightbulb, but I suspect this won't go down well. "Nonsense! Russia would never abuse a power or try to get rid of something that they don't like, nor is harmful" I hear you say? Well, you should remember that Russia is the country that wanted to ban the emo fashion.

Don't believe me?

http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5gwNzfstkIFxaBXd28vSA4ng2re3Q

dogstile:

The Plunk:
Hey, look, it must be sensationalism o'clock! The fact that they haven't actually censored anything yet, and have only said that they'll take down websites that most western nations already do apparently doesn't matter because they're Russia, therefore they must be evil!

Greg Tito:

"Of course there are websites that should not be accessible to children, but I don't think it will be limited to that," said Yuri Vdovin, an official from a human rights organization based in Russia. "The government will start closing other sites - any democracy-oriented sites are at risk of being taken offline."

To prove his point, Vdovin says the law will only target websites to which the Russian government is politically opposed. "There are lots of harmful websites out there already, for example, fascist sites - and they could have easily been closed down by now - but no, [the government] doesn't care, there are no attempts to do so," he said.

"The government hasn't taken down websites which express a political viewpoint... THEREFORE THE GOVERNMENT'S GONNA START TAKING DOWN WEBSITES WHICH EXPRESS POLITICAL VIEWPOINTS!"
What a fucking genius!

"They've only said..."

Stop right there. You're trusting a government to stick to their word? That's not sensationalism to assume they won't, that's an assumption that can be made based on looking at any government in the world, what they've promised and what they've actually done.

Maybe its just because I live in England and wouldn't trust my government to change a fucking lightbulb, but I suspect this won't go down well. "Nonsense! Russia would never abuse a power or try to get rid of something that they don't like, nor is harmful" I hear you say? Well, you should remember that Russia is the country that wanted to ban the emo fashion.

Don't believe me?

http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5gwNzfstkIFxaBXd28vSA4ng2re3Q

The media shouldn't be making assumptions, it should be reporting facts.

Banning emo fashion may seem authoritarian, but it's not censoring people for having political opinions. And banning things deemed "harmful to society" is hardly unique to authoritarian regimes, think of how many things are banned here in western countries "for the good of society".

BabySinclair:

Vegosiux:

twistedmic:

Wikileaks (at least) was a different matter. Wikileaks was dealing with and exposing stolen classified material, regardless of the damage that such information could have caused.

Yes, I understand that, but that doesn't make it "not censorship". And as long as a state argues "interests of national security" as the reason for taking a site down, that's pretty much that, because it falls under state sovereignty. Sure you can be critical of it, but you don't really have any grounds to make them stop doing it.

Actually, the knowledgeable sales, purchasing, and distribution of stolen goods is already illegal. Wikileaks knowingly bought and then distributed stolen "goods." Shutting them down is akin to confiscating the stolen property. This is why the censorship argument fails. Assange openly admitted to purchasing stolen goods and not alerting authorities to the sellers, both of which were criminal acts. He was effectively participating in political espionage and the US had the right to prevent that information from being released.

It's still censorship. By definition.

"Censorship is the suppression of speech or other public communication which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient as determined by a government, media outlet, or other controlling body."

Not allowing porn on TV at 2PM is "censorship". Censorship does not necessarily have a malicious intent, but it is a practice of disallowing communication and expression in some forms, while the reasons for it are very very varied, some more and some less scrupulous.

The main problem is that it's become some kind of a buzz word that has to necessarily carry a negative context, but that's not the fault of the word nor its definition, but of the people who perpetuate such a false perspective.

Or to put it differently, censorship is a tool that can be used for good or bad, and it shouldn't be called bad by default just because it happens to be used in a bad fashion in several cases.

The Plunk:

dogstile:

The Plunk:
Hey, look, it must be sensationalism o'clock! The fact that they haven't actually censored anything yet, and have only said that they'll take down websites that most western nations already do apparently doesn't matter because they're Russia, therefore they must be evil!

"The government hasn't taken down websites which express a political viewpoint... THEREFORE THE GOVERNMENT'S GONNA START TAKING DOWN WEBSITES WHICH EXPRESS POLITICAL VIEWPOINTS!"
What a fucking genius!

"They've only said..."

Stop right there. You're trusting a government to stick to their word? That's not sensationalism to assume they won't, that's an assumption that can be made based on looking at any government in the world, what they've promised and what they've actually done.

Maybe its just because I live in England and wouldn't trust my government to change a fucking lightbulb, but I suspect this won't go down well. "Nonsense! Russia would never abuse a power or try to get rid of something that they don't like, nor is harmful" I hear you say? Well, you should remember that Russia is the country that wanted to ban the emo fashion.

Don't believe me?

http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5gwNzfstkIFxaBXd28vSA4ng2re3Q

The media shouldn't be making assumptions, it should be reporting facts.

Banning emo fashion may seem authoritarian, but it's not censoring people for having political opinions. And banning things deemed "harmful to society" is hardly unique to authoritarian regimes, think of how many things are banned here in western countries "for the good of society".

Unfortunately for you, you're on a website where it has long been established that the authors will put their own assumptions into the stories. Hell, even real world newspapers do this. Its nothing new that the media does this.

Oh, for your last point, just because it happens over here, doesn't mean I agree with it. I was born into the system, after all.

The Plunk:
Hey, look, it must be sensationalism o'clock! The fact that they haven't actually censored anything yet, and have only said that they'll take down websites that most western nations already do apparently doesn't matter because they're Russia, therefore they must be evil!

Greg Tito:

"Of course there are websites that should not be accessible to children, but I don't think it will be limited to that," said Yuri Vdovin, an official from a human rights organization based in Russia. "The government will start closing other sites - any democracy-oriented sites are at risk of being taken offline."

To prove his point, Vdovin says the law will only target websites to which the Russian government is politically opposed. "There are lots of harmful websites out there already, for example, fascist sites - and they could have easily been closed down by now - but no, [the government] doesn't care, there are no attempts to do so," he said.

"The government hasn't taken down websites which express a political viewpoint... THEREFORE THE GOVERNMENT'S GONNA START TAKING DOWN WEBSITES WHICH EXPRESS POLITICAL VIEWPOINTS!"
What a fucking genius!

cerebus23:
i suspect putin is motivated by his dreams of stalin and wanting to crush any and all opposition.

"He's a corrupt politican, and he's Russian... THEREFORE HE MUST LOVE STALIN!"
Look guys, we've got ourselves another genius over here!

Well i do know he had any number of opposition murdered over the years, put his underling puppet in as leader, put his buddies in all sorts of cushy positions of power, he was a former kgb officer, i think he might even have a passing knowledge of stalin and the things he did. :P

And the Orwellian dystopia begins.

"Think of the children" is far too frequently used to take away the rights of adults.

Child pornography is already illegal in the free world; the police already shut down such websites in their investigations. Claiming that concerns over child pornography is enough to give the government wide powers to censor the most powerful mode of communication is insanity.

yeah, putin doesnt like reading how much of a dictatorial asshole he is when surfing for porn.

The Nazis have returned and are now in the process of taking over Greece la 1920's Germany, and it's clear that their cross-hairs are aimed at the immigrants and Jews.
Russia is now being converted back to a communist, totalitarian state that was supposed to be abolished two decades ago.
And governments like those in China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba and Zimbabwe still exist.

I'll just call it now: World War III in at least 15 years.

Baldry:
Reminds me of Hitler and how he arrested his political opponents and had all their newspapers closed down...Dark days.

Dude, it's Russia. You don't need to Godwin for this sort of thing.

Just going to turn more Russian children into tech-savy hackers. Good job Russia

cerebus23:

The Plunk:

"He's a corrupt politican, and he's Russian... THEREFORE HE MUST LOVE STALIN!"
Look guys, we've got ourselves another genius over here!

Well i do know he had any number of opposition murdered over the years, put his underling puppet in as leader, put his buddies in all sorts of cushy positions of power, he was a former kgb officer, i think he might even have a passing knowledge of stalin and the things he did. :P

Which makes him exactly like Stalin.

The kind of Stalin that is leading a religious conservative, nationalist, big business-supporting anti-communist party.

I guess Putin tried googling his name and didn't like what he had found.

The Plunk:
"The government hasn't taken down websites which express a political viewpoint... THEREFORE THE GOVERNMENT'S GONNA START TAKING DOWN WEBSITES WHICH EXPRESS POLITICAL VIEWPOINTS!"
What a fucking genius!

I used to trust governments to be consistent and not lie. Governments flip like pancakes and lie all the time.

The Plunk:
"He's a corrupt politican, and he's Russian... THEREFORE HE MUST LOVE STALIN!"
Look guys, we've got ourselves another genius over here!

I think he said Stalin because
- responsible for more deaths than Hitler
- no need to pull off the Hitler card in a country with Russia's history

You're jumping over conclusions and antagonizing people. Stop it.

Entitled:
Which makes him exactly like Stalin.

The kind of Stalin that is leading a religious conservative, nationalist, big business-supporting anti-communist party.

I admire the WWII era German war machine and what it represented, even though I am not a Nazi. Some times things aren't about intentions but actions.

I take that nobody is this thread ever saw a hyperbole.

Oh gee, while we're at it, why don't we all strap pillows to ourselves so we don't hurt ourselves if we walk into walls!
Seriously, this obvious mind-control facading as protection is sickening and disgusting.

well... if only the bad sites are censored, then i am just fine... i will be concerned once other sites become black listed... at which point, it will be admittedly too late

Well, this was only a logical step up from the censorship already present in all the other Russian media.

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