East Europe Censorship News

2019

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An Iron Curtain for the Internet...

Russia extends repressive state censorship to news deemed to be fake and to insulting politicians, even when justified


Link Here 22nd March 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media
President Vladimir Putin has tightened his grip on the Russian Internet by signing two censorship bills into law. One bans fake news while the other makes it illegal to insult public officials.

Russia has never really been a liberal democracy. It lacks an independent judiciary, and the government has found a variety of techniques to harass and intimidate independent media in the country.

But the new legislation gives the Russian government more direct tools to censor online speech. Under one bill, individuals can face fines and jail time if they publish material online that shows a clear disrespect for society, the state, the official state symbols of the Russian Federation, the Constitution of the Russian Federation, and bodies exercising state power. Punishments can be as high as 300,000 rubles ($4,700) and 15 days in jail.

A second bill subjects sites publishing unreliable socially significant information to fines as high as 1.5 million rubles ($23,000).

 

 

Offsite Article: After a crackdown on live music in Russia, artists are asking what's next...


Link Here 18th March 2019
Months after a series of concert cancellations, the country's underground subcultures have reached an uneasy truce with authorities

See article from dazeddigital.com

 

 

Curtained off...

Thousands of Russian protest against an extension of internet censorship


Link Here 11th March 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media

Thousands of people in Moscow and other Russian cities took to the streets over the weekend to protest legislation they fear could lead to widespread internet censorship in the country.

The protests, which were some of the biggest protests in the Russian capital in years, came in response to a bill in parliament that would route all internet traffic through servers in Russia, making virtual private networks (VPNs) ineffective. Critics note that the bill creates an internet firewall similar to China's.

People gathered in a cordoned off Prospekt Sakharova street in Moscow, made speeches on a stage and chanted slogans such as hands off the internet and no to isolation, stop breaking the Russian internet. The rally gathered around 15,300 people, according to White Counter, an NGO that counts participants at rallies. Moscow police put the numbers at 6,500.

 

 

Disrespect of the people...

Russia's parliament passes law to jail people for disrespecting the state, politicians, national symbols, and of course Putin


Link Here 8th March 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media

Russia's parliament has advanced repressive new internet laws allowing the authorities to jail or fine those who spread supposed 'fake news' or disrespect government officials online.

Under the proposed laws, which still await final passage and presidential signature, people found guilty of spreading indecent posts that demonstrate disrespect for society, the state, (and) state symbols of the Russian Federation, as well as government officials such as President Vladimir Putin, can face up to 15 days in administrative detention. Private individuals who post fake news can be hit will small fines of between $45 and $75, and legal entities face much higher penalties of up to $15,000, according to draft legislation.

The anti-fake news bill, which passed the Duma, or lower house of parliament, also compels ISPs to block access to content which offends human dignity and public morality.

It defines fake news as any unverified information that threatens someone's life and (or) their health or property, or threatens mass public disorder or danger, or threatens to interfere or disrupt vital infrastructure, transport or social services, credit organizations, or energy, industrial, or communications facilities.

 

 

Offsite Article: Remote control...


Link Here 7th March 2019
Russians give up on TV news propaganda and move to YouTube instead

See article from economist.com

 

 

Fake free speech...

Russian anti-fake news bill rushed through parliament despite vocal opposition


Link Here 10th February 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media

The Russian State Duma is considering multiple bills of law that would further stifle free speech in Russia's already heavily restricted internet environment.

One targets expressions of willful disregard towards the state. Another targets disinformation. All of them echo increasingly global concerns among governments about the political implications of disinformation -- and unbridled criticism -- on the internet. And all have been heavily criticized by Russian civil society groups, experts, users and even the government's own ministers. Yet these bills promoting possible further crackdown on free speech still trudge on through the legislative system.

The first bill, a sovereign internet initiative , which is yet to reach the floor of the lower chamber of Russia's bicameral parliament, seeks to establish state-regulated internet exchange points that would allow for increased monitoring and control over internet traffic moving into and out of the country.

Under this law, individuals, officials or organizations accused of spreading fake news disguised as genuine public announcements which are found to promote public disorder or other serious disturbances could be fined for up to a million rubles (slightly above USD $15,000), unless they remove the violating content in a day's time. The bill also provides measures through which Roskomnadzor, Russia's media watchdog, will order ISPs to block websites hosting the offending content.

The bill passed its first reading in late January with flying colours, receiving 336 votes in its favor and only 44 against, thanks to the 2016 landslide which guaranteed the ruling United Russia party an absolute voting majority.

The anti-fake news bill will be reviewed again by the Duma in February, conditioned on the revision of some of its most contentious points. The bill pushed through by Putin's party was met with a rare response of significant opposition, even among the normally acquiescent branches of Russia's highly centralized and executive-biased power structure. The attorney general's office, among others, criticized the bill's vague definitions as potentially damaging to citizens' civil rights.

The second bill , which came up for review alongside the fake news-busting proposal, is seen as being even more controversial. It seeks to punish vulgar expressions of wilful disregard towards the state, its symbols and organs of its power with fines of up to 5,000 rubles (around USD $76) and detention for up to 15 days. The bill also passed in the first reading on the same day, despite vocal criticism from both government members (Deputy Communications Minister Alexey Volin said that calmly accepting criticism was an obligation for state officials, adding that they weren't made of sugar) and opposition parties.

 

 

Searching for compliance...

Google agrees to censor search in Russia as dictated by the authorities


Link Here 7th February 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media

Google has agreed to censor search results in Russia as dictated by country's internet censor. This will then allow Google to continue operations in Russia.

Google is one of a few search engines that does not adhere to an official list of banned websites that should not be included in search results.. However, Google already deletes 70% links from its search results to websites that internet censor Roskomnadzor has banned.

In December of 2018, Roskomnadzor charged Google a fine of 500,000 rubles ($7,590) for refusing to subscribe to the banned list. The company did not challenge the agency's decision and chose to pay the fine. The Russian law that made the fine possible does not allow Roskomnadzor to block sites that do not comply with its censorship demands, but that did not stop Roskomnadzor from threatening to block Google within Russian borders regardless.

 

 

Tit for tat...

Russian TV censor finds the BBC World News in breach of Russian censorship law


Link Here 1st February 2019
Full story: TV Censorship in Russia...Russian TV censors easily wound up
The Russian TV censor has found certain violations in activities of the BBC World News broadcaster in Russia. The probe into the broadcaster's actions was launched in response to the British TV censor Ofcom's ruling against the Russian propaganda channel RT for biased reporting about the Salisbury poisoning.

Roskomnadzor the Russian TV censor said BBC World News in Russia, has been found in breach of Russian legislation following an unscheduled inspection. It did not elaborate on the nature of the revealed violations but said that it is assessing their severity. Roskomnadzor will later provide further information about the measures taken.

On a separate occasion, January 10, Roskomnadzor said it found some BBC online reports in breach of Russian anti-extremism laws as they contained some direct quotes of Al-Baghdadi, the head of Islamic State, something that is banned under a Russian law.

 

 

Fake justification...

Russia to get nasty with internet users who post messages the government doesn't like


Link Here 26th January 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media
Russia has latched onto the usefulness of claiming fake news when censoring messages that it doesn't like.

A new law passing through parliament will punish media outlets with fines and even imprisonment for publishing 'fake news' or information showing disrespect to government bodies and officials.

Prosecutors would be able to block websites without court orders, while publications found guilty of spreading unreliable socially-significant information would face fines of as much as $US15,000 under a measure passed Thursday by the lower house of parliament at first reading.

A second law threatens people with up to 15 days in jail, as well as a ban on their publications, if they distribute material expressing a clear disrespect for society, the state, the official state symbols of the Russian Federation, the Constitution of the Russian Federation and bodies exercising state power.

 

 

Distant friends...

Russian internet censor takes Facebook and Twitter to court over access to user data


Link Here 21st January 2019
Full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media

Russia's internet censor, Roskomnadzor, has filed administrative proceedings against Facebook and Twitter for failing to comply with local censorship laws.

Roskomnadzor said that the two social networks did not explain how and when they would comply with legislation requiring them to store Russian users' personal data on servers in Russia. Roskomnadzor told CNBC:

The companies managing the social networks of Facebook and Twitter provided formal answers to our demands to confirm the localization of personal data of Russian users in Russia. They do not contain specifics about the actual implementation of the legislation at the current moment, nor about the timing of the implementation of these standards in the future.

In this regard, today Roskomnadzor begins administrative proceedings against both companies.

 

 

Offsite Article: Russia unliked and unfriended...


Link Here 19th January 2019
Full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor
Facebook censors the Russian propaganda news service Sputnik

See article from polygraph.info

 

 

Tit for tat...

Russia responds to Ofcom investigation of propaganda channel RT by investigating the BBC propaganda channel


Link Here 11th January 2019

Russia's media censor says it has found material on BBC websites that broadcast the ideological attitudes of international terrorist organisations.

Roskomnadzor said it was looking at quotes from the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The regulator said it would now review the BBC's output for compliance with its Russian broadcast licence.

It is a response to the UK's media censor Ofcom who investigation and censure of Russia's propaganda channel RT.

 

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