The Russian version of Wikipedia is currently blacked out due to the current proposed child protection bill that is to have its 2nd reading in The State Duma (lower Russian Parliament) tomorrow, that would give the Russian government sweeping new powers to block any site it wished. All pages on the Russian version of Wikipedia, with the exception of those directly related to the proposed Bill are blacked out for today. The protest is set to last for 24hrs.
The Russian Wikipedia community has joined critics of the bill, who believe that the blacklist of sites with not-for-children content that the bill introduces will result in internet censorship.
Lobbyists and activists supporting the amendments, argue that they are directed exclusively against the content such as child pornography “and things like that,” but to follow the provisions and wording to be discussed, will result in the creation of a Russian analogue of “ the great Chinese firewall . “ The practice of law, which exists in Russia, says a high probability of worst-case scenario, in which access to Wikipedia was soon to be closed across the country.
Bill No.89417-6 has many similarities to the recent SOPA Bill that was defeated on January 18th 2012 in the US, after huge on-line blackouts by thousands of sites across the web including the English version of Wikipedia and Reddit.
The Bills creators are using a tactic that is being increasingly used these days by politicians and corporations, who wish to have censorship laws passed, whereby they state that the Bills are required to protect children from harmful sites on-line.
The bill requires the creation of the registry (the “black list”) of Internet content that are prohibited for dissemination, and implementation procedures for blocking Internet resources. In the current edition of the list of resources to be blocked too broad and includes, in addition to child pornography, a number of subjective evaluation categories. It is possible that the criteria for the formation of the registry can be expanded to other materials which, according to the creators of the registry, could potentially harm children. Moreover, the procedure is regulated by the bill blocking Internet content involves restricting access to information which is prohibited or undesirable for children, for all users of the Russian segment of the Internet – with no possible appeal procedures, and re-examination, without any restrictions, which would treat the proposed action not like censorship, which is expressly prohibited by the Constitution and restricts people’s right of access to information, no closer to solving the problems stated in the bill.
As with SOPA and ACTA, the overly broad scope of this Bill leave it wide open to abuse by the government and interested parties to abuse, as it gives these bodies the ability to select which sites to blacklist.
The Kremlin has made no public comment on the bill, but lawmakers from Putin’s party were among those who wrote the legislation, and it is likely to pass. It follows other recent laws that have targeted groups Putin views as rivals or bad influences: A law imposing heavy fines for protesters was quickly pushed through parliament in June, and a bill that would label NGOs receiving foreign aid as “foreign agents” was approved just last week.
Two examples of this, frankly disturbing method of cloaking censorship Bills, were done by US Republican Lamar Smith and Canadian Public Safety Minister Vic Toews.
In the first example, Lamar Smith who was the creator of SOPA attempted to use the protection of children to get the SOPA Bill passed by saying that it was to ”protect children from internet pornographers.” The second politician in the above examples to try this was Vic Toews, who is the Canadian Public Safety Minister who stated, “You can stand with us, or you can stand with the child pornographers,”
In the latest statement by the Council under the President of the Russian Federation for Civil Society Development and Human Rights, they concluded with the below:
We believe it is important to stop the censorship in the Russian segment of the Internet and, in particular, in Russia – this will lead to the emergence of a new “electronic curtain”, which is detrimental affect on the rights and opportunities for citizens of Russia, on the development of society in general and the formation of the entire economy .
Front page of Russian Wikipedia (original text)
Translated to English