Facebook Briefly Appears On Russia’s Internet Blacklist

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

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The social network had three days to avoid being banned across the country

On Thursday, the Russian Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor) briefly added Facebook to its Internet blacklist, after users complained about “illegal” content hosted on its website.

The social network was threatened with a blanket ban across the country if it didn’t remove the offending pages in three days. Facebook chose to comply.

Russian internet © Pavel Ignatov Shutterstock 2012Roskomnadzor was recently given powers to ‘blacklist’ Internet resources and subsequently block them at the ISP level, even before the issue of a court order.

Earlier this week, the same government agency said authorities were likely to investigate Facebook over alleged advertising of illegal smoking blends meant to replicate the effects of Cannabis.

Russians keep Facebook on its toes

In 2012, changes to the Act for Information gave Roskomnadzor the powers to take offline websites that were hosting information about drugs, self-harm and child abuse. Civil rights activists had been protesting against the changes, claiming they restricted freedom of speech and would lead to further Internet censorship.

In August, the law had been extended to include intellectual property, such as films or TV shows (but interestingly, not music). If the website owners refuse to comply with the Roskomnadzor’s orders, it can instruct ISPs to block the whole site.

According to Russia Today, the agency received ten complaints about Facebook, but didn’t specify what kind of content they were referring to.

“Three applications have been examined, including those not related to advertising of smoking blends. Facebook has eliminated the violations under two inquiries, and the third has been included to the register. We have already sent a notification to the hosting providers. Facebook has three days to remove the violation, and avoid a ban in Russia,” Vladimir Pikov, a spokesman for the agency, told ITAR-TASS news.

Facebook deleted the content later on Thursday, and Roskomnadzor confirmed it had removed the social network from the blacklist.

Artem Kozlyuk, head of RosKomSvoboda, an organization that monitors Russia’s blacklist, told TorrentFreak that besides websites that were blocked by authorities, about 30,000  remain inaccessible simply because they were unlucky enough to share the same IP address range.

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