Online freedom clampdown? Russian lawmarkers draft bill to block email or messenger users who circulate ‘banned’ content
Russian lawmakers have reportedly drafted legislation that would permit authorities to block individual email or online messenger users who circulate content that the Russian state has banned.
The move is another development in Russia of a clampdown on online activity, and is sure to alarm privacy and online freedom campaigners.
However Reuters reported that the pro Kremlin lawmakers say the legislation is needed to combat hoax bomb threats that have happened across the country in recent years.
The proposed legislation would see the state communications watchdog, Roskomnadzor, ordering Internet Service Providers and messaging firms to block individual users within 24 hours of being notified.
Companies that fail to do this face a fine of 1 million roubles ($15,350).
“In practice, it is efficient to completely block a user, not the individual messages sent by them,” Andrey Klishas, one of the lawmakers who drafted the bill, was quoted by Reuters as saying.
Russian internet search company Yandex and Google reportedly declined to comment on the matter.
The bill must be approved in three votes in the lower house of the Russian parliament (the Duma) before it is sent for approval in the upper house and then signed into law by President Vladimir Putin.
It should be remembered that Russia under President Putin is seeking to disconnect the country from foreign Internet servers.
In May he signed a signed a controversial bill that routes Russian web traffic through points controlled by Russian government.
The law had already been approved by lawmakers in the State Duma, the Russian equivalent of the Houses of Parliament, despite the protests of thousands of people, concerned it would tighten government controls of the Internet in Russia.
Russian lawmakers had backed the tighter internet controls, as they believe it is necessary to prevent foreign meddling in Russia’s affairs.
Essentially, the law will increase Russian “sovereignty” over its Internet presence, and the legislation has been labelled in the Russian media as the “sovereign internet” bill.
The law will allow Russia to route all Russian web traffic and data through points controlled by the Russian government.
It also proposes building a national Domain Name System (DNS) to allow the internet to continue functioning even if the country is cut off from foreign infrastructure.
Russian Internet firms have until 1 November to comply with the law.
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