Wikipedia Russia, other sites protest proposed Internet 'censorship' law

The Russian protests are similar to the SOPA protests organized in the U.S. earlier this year

The Russian version of Wikipedia went black on Tuesday to protest against a proposed law that could become the basis for Internet censorship.

Wikipedia's protest is backed by other large Russian online businesses such as the social networking site VKontakte and the Russian LiveJournal.

"We are protesting because the proposed amendments are too inaccurate, and in its current form they can damage Internet development in Russia," said Vladimir Medeyko, director of the Russian Wikimedia foundation, via instant message.

If the new law, "On Information, Information Technologies and Protection of Information," is adopted with the proposed amendments, this might lead to the creation of a Russian analogue of "the great Chinese firewall" or an "electronic curtain," Medeyko said, adding that in a worst-case scenario access to Wikipedia might be blocked in Russia.

Visitors to the Russian Wikipedia site were unable to access it on July 10. Those who tried to access the site saw a black censorship banner over the Cyrillic word for Wikipedia. "Imagine a world without free knowledge," the slogan reads on the blocked website.

Wikipedia is protesting because the State Duma, the Russian lower house of parliament, has proposed to block websites containing illegal content through IP and DNS blockades. Medeyko said that the IT industry in Russia instead proposed blocks on a URL level, but legislators ignored the suggestion.

Using the proposed way to block illegal content could be risky for innocent users, Medeyko said. "If there's just a single violating comment in a blog, the whole blog-service could be blocked," he said.

Russia already experienced the consequences of such a blockade when a court decided that one illegal YouTube video was sufficient to block the entire YouTube.com domain, he said. But that was a decision by the court, and under the proposed amendment, the number of authorities that may forbid access to a site increase. As a consequence, the risk that entire sites may be blocked in the way YouTube was also rises, Medeyko said.

Wikipedia asked visitors to support the protest by sending a message addressed to the Chairman of the State Duma, Sergey Naryshkin. The prefabricated message calls on Naryshkin and the rest of the Duma to discuss the bill in open public hearings with experts on civil society and e-democracy, including representatives from the Internet industry and service providers. The protesters are also asking the Duma to change the proposed blocking process.

The Russian protest against online censorship is similar to U.S. protests against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) last January, when English version of Wikipedia along with sites as Reddit an Craigslist opposed the legislation by blocking access to their websites.

However, the Russian protest is not as big because it had to be staged in a hurry, Medeyko said. The first reading of the law occurred Friday and the second one is planned for Wednesday, he said, adding that a Russian bill becomes law after the third reading.

The Russian IT industry was not expecting that amendments with such a big impact on the law could be be approved so fast, Medeyko said, adding that sometimes a law can pass through the Duma in one day, but that is an exception and happens when parties agree on the amendments.

Wikipedia is backed by the Russian version of LiveJournal, which protested in a blog post, and Bash.im, the Russian version of quotation site Bash.org, which posted a red banner on each page.

Russian social networking site VKontakte, which has about 290 million users, also joined the bandwagon when the site's founder, Pavel Durov, announced support of the protest.

"We're starting with a banner in all pages. There is a reading of Internet censorship introducing law currently in the Russian Duma. Details at ru.wikipedia.org," Durov announced on Twitter.

Loek covers all things tech for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Loek Essers

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?