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Russia enforces new internet crackdown for bloggers and social networks

Fri 1 Aug 2014

Russia has enforced a law today which requires bloggers and social media users with more than 3,000 daily readers to register with mass media regulators. Internet companies will also be required to surrender users’ data to Russian security services upon request.

Described by some as a “draconian” measure, the legislation ensures that bloggers cannot remain anonymous and that social media outlets retain at least six months’ worth of data on its users. This information must be stored in servers on Russian soil, enabling authorities to gain access to it.

Individual bloggers must also not publish any content which uses obscene language or could incite criticism among their readership.

The law which was approved by the Russian upper house of parliament this April is seen by many as the next stage in Russia’s attempts to control internet use and freedom.

Hugh Williamson, a Human Rights Watch representative in New York called the measure “another milestone in Russia’s relentless crackdown on free expression.”

“The internet is the last island of free expression in Russia and these draconian regulations are clearly aimed at putting it under government control,” he continued.

Bloggers in the country have already been looking for ways to play the system by using applications which can mask page visits and daily visitor numbers. Anton Nossik, Russia’s first blogger has also denounced the crackdown: “We’re witnessing a fast and ruthless destruction of online freedom.”

Nossik explained the threat in particular was to popular social networks such as Facebook, Google and Twitter.

“The issue of banning all these platforms in Russia is a political one and it will be decided by only one person”, Nossik wrote, referring to President Vladimir Putin.

For those who fail to comply with the regulation, a 10,000 – 30,000 (approx. £165 – £500) rubles fine will apply for individual bloggers, while larger media organisations will be fined up to 50,000 rubles (approx. £830).

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