Russia brings in internet blacklist laws

Strict internet legislation implemented in Russia

New internet laws have been introduced in Russia, allowing material deemed to be offensive or potentially harmful to be removed instantly.

The government says these measures have been taken to prevent children from accessing information that is illegal or has the potential to be harmful. These amendments to the Act for Information were first discussed and approved in July, coming into force from the 1st of November.

While the stated goals of the legislation are positive, there has been significant opposition to the bill, with many worried that it may lead to more widespread censorship of the internet, similar to that seen in China .

Strong opposition to new laws

Amongst those displaying their disapproval to these changes are two of the biggest websites in Russia. Search engine Yandex protested by changing part of its logo, crossing out the word "everything" in their slogan "everything will be found". Russian social networking site Vkontakte, which has over 100 million active users, also posted messages stating their belief that these laws threatened their future.

Yuri Vdovin, who is vice president of human rights organisation Citizens Watch told the BBC "It will be [an attack on] the freedom of speech on the internet."

Further opposition came from the Russian language version of Wikipedia, who took their entire site offline for a day with the message "Today the Wikipedia community voices protest against the introduction of censorship". The statement continued to call the changes "dangerous for the freedom of knowledge - something which must be open for all mankind."

Adrian Mursec, senior developer at theEword commented: "While the intentions of this change are certainly noble, the full implications are yet to be seen. Clearly denying children access to harmful material is important, but many believe the government's influence will go far beyond this."