Russian government officials recently approved a law that would make “illegal” and inappropriate websites blacklisted from their internet. Such targets include websites that discuss suicide, drugs, or extremist related material. This government-mandated blacklist will block many websites from their 145 million plus citizens.
The only good news about this law, is that it gives the offending websites twenty-four hours to remove the content before they’re added to the blacklist.
Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s Prime Minister explained that although the internet should be relatively free, it should still be regulated by rules that are governed by a global community. The bill has yet to take affect- Russian president Vladmir Putin will officially sign the bill later this year.
This law is reported to be similar to the SOPA bill that the United Stated government tried to pass earlier this year. The bill was formally known as the Stop Online Piracy Act and it was designed to give the government authority to blacklist certain websites.
One of the key targets of this new bill could be Mitt Romney, and his official website, MittRomney. Russian officials have had harsh words for the GOP nominee. Last Monday, during an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Romney called Russia a geopolitical foe. Medvedev shot back saying that Romney needs to check the current political climate and calendar.
The White House issued a joint statement with MSNBC, calling the move to block MittRomney.com, ‘a positive step in the right direction for Russia.’ (This sentence is satire).
Just a few days ago, Russia’s Wikipedia page blacked out their website for a brief period as a way of protesting the bill proposal. The website left the following message on their page during the blackout: “Imagine a world without free knowledge.”
The speculated reason for the government-mandated blacklist is to control what their citizens can access in the media. The internet has changed the way the world accesses and share valuable information. People are turning to the internet more and watching less government regulated television.
Russia isn’t the only country that’s regulating their internet. China announced new regulations that would further restrict video websites from publishing questionable and illegal content.
Russia’s decision to block certain internet websites is not really surprising. It seems that countries everywhere are trying to keep up with the ever changing society and modern technology. While it’s a good idea to draft up and establish laws to protect the internet and the people who use it, it’s also easy to get carried away and over-regulate the system. Such laws can also leave questionable gaps that leave room for errors.