The Russian Government plans to control the online media

By EDRi · November 2, 2011

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Deutsch: [Russische Regierung will Kontrolle über Online-Medien übernehmen |]

Roskomnadzor, Russia’s federal supervisory agency for communications,
information technology and mass media, is presently testing a search
software to trace “extremist” content on the Internet, planning to start
using it in December 2011.

The software will check text, audio and video footage on the Web for words
and phrases containing calls for violence, social and national hatred,
information on manufacturing and dissemination of drugs etc.

In case the respective software decides, based on rather vague criteria,
that a certain website has “extremist” content, the site is given three days
to remove it and, in case of non-compliance, is sent two more warnings and
then is closed down – a sort of four strikes system.

“Our main concern is Roskomnadzor’s very broad definition of ‘extremist’
content and the arbitrary and disproportionate nature of the sanctions that
can include website closure. The creation of this software will establish a
generalized system of surveillance of the Russian Internet that could
eventually lead to the withdrawal of all content that troubles the
authorities. It will inevitably restrict the free flow of information,” said
Reporters Without Borders.

At the same time, the government wants to use software designed to scan and
monitor anything posted online about the Russian government and judicial
system and any European Union statement concerning Russia as it came out
when the Minister of Justice announced a contest for the design of such

As the Russian authorities have become more and more aware about the power
of the Internet they seem to plan more and more measures to control it. On 2
August 2011, Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev called for a greater
surveillance of the Internet under the pretext of keeping the Russian youth
from going to “extremism”.

Bloggers have also entered under the authorities’ scrutiny with the increase
of their presence into the social life and of their influence. With much of
the Russian media already under control, bloggers have revealed important
stories on issues ranging from parking to high-level corruption.

“In the last two years, a huge amount of stories have first appeared on the
blogosphere and only then made it onto federal television and into
newspapers. If these stories hadn’t first been seized upon by bloggers, the
blogosphere, and social media, then it is more than possible they would
never have come to light,” said blogger Aleksandr Morozov.

During the last two years the authorities have targeted blogs and other
online media by expanding the legislation on extremism and slander, which
can easily be abused due to its vague drafting.

There have been several cases when search engine filtered the results so
that they should not show any news from certain websites, or websites have
been under cyber-attacks, mails or Twitter accounts have been reported of
being hacked, Most these websites, blogs or accounts were critical towards
the Russian government.

Government eager to use Net surveillance software currently in test phase

Russia: Bots To Look For Extremism Online (22.03.2011)

As Russian Bloggers Gain Prominence, The Kremlin Takes Notice (12.10.2011)