Russian President Vladimir Putin quietly signed a new law requiring popular bloggers to register their site with the government. Internet pioneers, lawyers and political activists opined that the law will provide the government with a greater ability to track information, opinions or statements published online, thus diminishing internet freedom.

Russia Vladimir Putin

The Blogger’s Law: Putin

According to the New York Times, the new law signed by Putin was widely known as the “Blogger’s Law,” which considers websites with more than 3,000 daily visitors to be a media outlet similar to a newspaper.

Under the law, online writers/bloggers who own the site are required to register with the Russian government, and are legally responsible for the accuracy of information published. Bloggers are prohibited from publishing their articles anonymously, and organizations providing platforms such as search engines, social networks must maintain a server in Russia and keep information about their users for at least six months.

Putin signed the law just weeks after he criticized the internet as a “special C.I.A. project,” a signal that he wants to limit Internet freedom in Russia. Other governments worldwide such as China and Turkey are also trying to curtail Internet freedom.

Reduces critical and opposition voices

Galina Arapova, director of the Mass Media Defense Center, opined that Russia’s Blogger’s Law will “cut the number of critical voices and opposition voices on the internet.” Galina added,  “The whole package seems quite restrictive and might affect harshly those who disseminate critical information about the state, about authorities, about public figures.”

On the other hand, Anton Nossik, one of the pioneers of online media in Russia commented, “It is part of the general campaign to shut down the Internet in Russia. They have not been able to control it until now, and they think they should implement the Chinese model. But they don’t understand how it works. The Chinese model also stimulates the development of local platforms, while the Russian laws are killing the local platform.”

Other Internet laws

Last February 1, Russia implemented an internet law that provided authority to the government to block websites. The government immediately used the law to curtail the websites of its most vocal critics such as Alexei Navalny and Gary Kasparov. Russia also blocked new online sites that reported demonstrations and other political issues in the country.