Russia’s Media Watchdog Blocks PornHub

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Internet users in Russia can no longer access PornHub and 10 other adult websites due to a ruling by a regional court.

Russian communications watchdog Roskomnadzor announced the ban on Monday following a ruling that the sites had violated laws related to porn distribution. The organization released a statement on its website, before reported that PornHub was one of the companies on the list.

Pornhub allegedly violates child protection laws

Later The Moscow Times reported that access to Pornhub’s Russian site was blocked on Tuesday. Attempts to access the site were met with a message claiming that the site was blocked because it hosted illegal content.

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A court in the city of Krasnodar ruled that the group of adult sites violated federal laws designed to protect minors from “harmful information.” It ruled that the sites were producing and distributing pornography illegally. No details were given as to what specific content triggered the ban.

“We can confirm that Roskomnadzor has blacklisted Pornhub in Russia and we are currently investigating and considering available means to reinstate our website in Russia,” read an email statement from a Pornhub spokesperson.

Internet censorship commonplace in Russia

Internet porn has been the focus of censorship in Russia in the past, and authorities regularly block content on websites and social networks. Roskomnadzor announced that it would block 136 adult sites in April, including the Russian version of xHamster, although PornHub was not included on that list.

Roskomnadzor has recently turned its attention to sites such as Reddit and Wikipedia. The former fell foul of regulators in August, who blocked access to the site due to a thread discussing psychedelic mushrooms. Wikipedia was later blocked due to a page related to cannabis, although access to both sites was reinstated following edits which brought them back in line with Roskomnadzor regulations.

Vladimir Putin’s government seems intent on controlling information. There is a growing sense of paranoia within the country that foreign influences are working to corrupt Russia’s unique culture, which must be protected at all costs.

Censorship aimed at preventing mass protests

Another source of concern for officials are so-called “Color Revolutions.” The term refers to mass protests seen in various post-Soviet states, which have been attributed to the influence of foreign actors.

Censorship is aimed at preventing such an event occurring in Russia, and the government employs multiple strategies to prevent Color Revolutions. The phenomenon is of such concern that the military has announced a major research project into coups caused by mass protests.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia experienced serious social unrest. “We have no right to allow the repetitions of the collapses of 1991 and 1993,” said Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu. “How to do it is another story, but it is clear that we must deal with the situation. We must understand how to prevent this and how to teach the younger generation so that it supported the calm and gradual development of our country.”

Other initiatives include compulsory classes for college students in how to prevent Color Revolutions, and a series of laws designed to prohibit actions such as car protests and sit-ins.

An increasing number of Western companies have fallen foul of Russia’s regulations. PornHub is not the first, and it seems it will not be the last.

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