Thousands Protest At Russian Internet Restrictions

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Strike protest complaint arms fists © Shutterstock Suzanne Tucker

Over 15,000 people protest in Moscow after Russian government moves to tighten control of Internet

Legislation designed to tighten controls of the Internet in Russia, drew thousands of protesters onto the street of Moscow at the weekend.

The legislation has already been approved by Russian lawmakers, but has to pass through a couple of other stages before it becomes law.

Russia is not the only country seeking to tighten online controls, with a number of Western countries already implementing tighter controls. The UK for example passed the controversial Investigatory Powers Act, commonly known as the Snoopers’ Charter, into law back in 2016.

Russian internet © Pavel Ignatov Shutterstock 2012

Russia protests

Russian lawmakers on the other hand last month backed tighter internet controls contained in legislation they believe is necessary to prevent foreign meddling in Russia’s affairs.

According to Reuters, officials are seeking to increase Russian “sovereignty” over its Internet presence.

The legislation wants to route Russian web traffic and data through points controlled by the Russian government.

The bill also proposes building a national Domain Name System to allow the internet to continue functioning even if the country is cut off from foreign infrastructure.

The bill has reportedly also been passed in the Russian parliament on the first reading out of three. A second reading will take place in March, and if it passes again, the upper house of the parliament will need to sign it off, before President Vladimir Putin officially rubber stamps it.

But an estimated 15,300 people protested at the weekend in Moscow and reportedly made speeches on a stage and chanted slogans such as “hands off the internet” and “no to isolation, stop breaking the Russian internet”.

“If we do nothing it will get worse. The authorities will keep following their own way and the point of no return will be passed”, said 28-year-old protester Dmitry, who declined to give his full name to Reuters.

Moscow authorities said the protest only involved 6,500 people, and a number of arrests are said to have taken place.

Other authorised protests took place in the cities of Voronezh and Khabarovsk. An unauthorised protest took place in St. Petersburg.

Russia controls

Russia it should be remembered has already banned the use of messaging app Telegram in the country.

That decision was taken by Russian authorities after the app refused to give Russian state security services access to its users’ secret messages by handing over encryption keys used to scramble the messages.

And Russia’s regulator Roskomnadzor (RKN) has for some now been pressuring foreign social networking firms such as Facebook, to store user data on servers located within Russian jurisdiction.

It has also passed laws to require search engines to delete some search results.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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