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!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
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

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?