Russian Wikipedia shuts to protest Internet bill

The Russian-language Wikipedia website shut down for a day Tuesday and symbolically blacked out its logo in protest at a bill that would allow the state to block access to blacklisted websites.

"Imagine a world without free knowledge," it said in a statement on its otherwise white main page, saying amendments to be discussed in parliament Wednesday "could lead to the creation of extrajudicial censorship of the whole Russian-language Internet".

The amendments to an existing information law are being promoted as a crackdown on child pornography in particular, but the Ru.Wikipedia.org site warned that they could "prompt the creation of a Russian version of the Great Firewall of China".

Passed in its first reading on Friday, the bill calls for the creation of a federal register that would rule on websites carrying banned information and oblige site owners and providers to close down the offending sites.

"It is unclear who would control the activities of this organisation," the head of Russian Wikipedia, Vladimir Medeiko, complained to the RIA Novosti news agency.

"There is a great risk of censorship appearing on the Russian Internet."

In a storm of comment, Russia's main Internet companies including Yandex and Mail.ru Group backed Wikipedia's objections to the bill.

The bill comes as part of an apparent trend to use the pliant Duma lower house dominated by the ruling United Russia party to rubber-stamp laws that can be used against the opposition.

It has recently pushed through legislation ramping up fines for protesters and stigmatising internationally-funded NGOs as "foreign agents".

Protest leader Alexei Navalny slammed the bill on his popular blog saying it would "move the Internet in the direction of the Zombie Box," a slang term for Kremlin-controlled television.

The bill cites websites carrying child pornography, promoting drug use and encouraging children to commit suicide, saying the decision to blacklist these would be taken by an unnamed federal agency.

It said that sites would also be blacklisted under vague extremism laws, which can be enforced by the ruling of a single district court.

Under the bill, an entire site could be blacklisted over the content of one page.

The bill was proposed by the Duma's family, women and children committee, an all-party group.

It has already prompted high-level opposition.

The presidential council on human rights -- a purely advisory body --- last week slammed the bill, calling it "the introduction of censorship" and a "new electronic curtain" descending on Russia.

And the newly appointed minister of communications, Nikolai Nikiforov, Russia's youngest at 30, took the unusual step Tuesday of criticising it on Twitter.

"I do not support Wiki's decision to close. But this step is an important reaction from society, a sign that we need to amend the bill," he wrote.

"The idea of fighting child pornography on the net is correct. But the Internet as a whole must remain a free environment."

He predicted that the bill would be passed in its crucial second reading, saying that industry representatives and experts should work over the summer on amendments.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who broke the mould by using social media as president, has also criticised the bill, Vedomosti business daily reported Tuesday, citing a source in a major internet company.

In neighbouring Belarus, strongman leader Alexander Lukashenko has cracked down on the Internet, creating a centre to monitor those who access suspicious sites and requiring Internet cafes to keep records of users.

The bill's second reading is timetabled for Wednesday. If passed it will go through several other votes seen as a formality before being signed into law by President Vladimir Putin.

In Russia, the Internet plays a crucial role in disseminating opposition views through social networking sites including Facebook, Twitter and Live Journal and is also used to coordinate protests.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • The Race to Global Greatness - YGP6
    The Race to Global Greatness - YGP6

    Yamaha Motor Philippines (YMPH) recently held the first leg of the Yamaha Grand Prix 6 at the SM Sta. Rosa compound in Laguna. The racing categories for this year are the following: Automatic Inter-Club RaceUnderbone Inter-Club Race115 Superstock ATVega Force i SuperstockSniper 150 Open UB130 Open UBMio 125 MX i …

  • Volkswagen opens new showroom along Quezon AvenueVolkswagen opened a new showroom along Quezon Avenue, …
    Volkswagen opens new showroom along Quezon AvenueVolkswagen opened a new showroom along Quezon Avenue, …

    Volkswagen opened a new showroom along Quezon Avenue, which is now the automotive row of Northern Metro Manila.At the Innauguration was Chief Operating Adviser Klaus Schadewald, Branch Manager Bob Anthony Palanca, Volkswagen Philippines: President and CEO John Philip Orbeta and General Manager Nemesio Solomon, Jr. This new showroom has the latest Volkswagen Interactive Showroom applications. ... …

  • Nissan launches its “Virtual to Reality” GT Academy here in the Philippines
    Nissan launches its “Virtual to Reality” GT Academy here in the Philippines

    The Filipino Gran Turismo gamer just became eligible to become a Pro Race Car driver as Nissan Philippines Inc. launched its GT Academy here in the Philippines. The object is to find the best Grand Turismo players in both the online qualification process and participating in the live events after which they’ll compete with each other in National Finals to see who gets to attend the 3 month Race camp.  The winner gets to stay in the UK near Silverstone and will take part in UK national and club …

  • Osmeña wants electricity exempted from VAT
    Osmeña wants electricity exempted from VAT

    Sen. Sergio Osmeña III wants electricity to be exempted from value added tax under a proposed measure that will amend the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997 and the Reformed VAT Law. He said the move aims to ease the burden of the public in paying high electricity rates in the country. “VAT on electricity is another burden on the already over-taxed shoulders of our people, especially those whose incomes are barely enough to cover their basic needs. Osmeña, chairman of the Senate …

  • No lotto draws starting tomorrow until Easter Sunday
    No lotto draws starting tomorrow until Easter Sunday

    No lotto tickets will be sold and no lotto draws made starting tomorrow, Maundy Thursday, up to Easter Sunday in observance of Holy Week. In a statement, Jose Ferdinand Rojas II, acting Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) chairman and general manager, said the selling of lotto tickets and lotto draws will resume on April 6,  Monday. “We thank all Lotto players for your trust and confidence in the PCSO games, and we count on your continued support of our efforts to raise funds for …

  • Quake rocks C. Visayas
    Quake rocks C. Visayas

    A magnitude-3.2 earthquake rocked parts of Central Visayas yesterday. State seismologists said the quake was an aftershock of a powerful tremor that hit the region in 2013. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said the quake occurred at 7:54 a.m. Its epicenter was located 10 kilometers  southeast of Buenavista, Bohol. Phivolcs director Renato Solidum said the quake was an aftershock of the magnitude-7.2 earthquake that hit Bohol on Oct. 15, 2013. …

  • Super howler nears Phl
    Super howler nears Phl

    A typhoon that has devastated islands in the Pacific is forecast to become a category 5 monster howler as it barrels toward the Philippines this week. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Maysak will be named Chedeng when it enters the Philippine area of responsibility tonight or tomorrow morning. In an interview, PAGASA weather forecaster Gener Quitlong said the forecast track of Maysak may still change depending on the movement of …

  • Philips Gold finally shines

    Philips Gold made 11 service aces on its way to beating Mane ‘N Tail, 25-19, 27-25, 25-16, for its first victory in the Philippine Super Liga (PSL) All-Filipino Coinference Monday night at The Arena in San Juan.Former College of St. Benilde standout Rossan Fajardo had six aces as part of her 10-point output as the Lady Slammers finally barged into the win column after losing their first two matches.Ex-National University star Myla Pablo led Philips Gold with 14 points highlighted by 12 kills, …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options