New Information Security Law passed
Russian Bloggers bear the brunt
Following on from a series of reshaping reforms to her internet laws, Russia have decreed that bloggers with a 3,000 strong following are obligated to register with the government’s mass media regulator, Roskomnadzor, and become consistent with the country’s code of practice for its state-run media.
Passed in the Kremlin last April, the law has been much maligned due to its ostensible restrictive undertones, with many Russians believing it to be another development in a long line of measures aimed at curbing citizens’ freedom.
Earlier this year, Russia ratified a law which allowed the government to ban websites without having to provide a reason. The justification for the implementation of this law mirrored Russia’s reasoning for their sanctioning of a law which imbued authorities with power to boycott websites without explanation 2 years ago. In both cases, the government deemed the legislation necessary to shield impressionable children from harmful websites, such as pornography.
However, this new Information Security Law, coming into effect on 1 August, has heightened tensions between the government and citizens even more, with many Russians fearing the medium through which they are afforded the greatest freedom of expression will soon be rendered obsolete by the powers that be.
Measures entailed within the new legislature include
- The denial of anonymity for bloggers
- The requirement for social networks to keep six months’ worth of data on its users.
- The above data must be kept on servers grounded in Russia, so as to allow ease of access for the Russian government.
The shamelessness of the Russian government in their attempts to stifle national opinion is staggering, and no-one is more outraged than the Russian public, with one human rights organisation labelling the legislature as ‘draconian’.
Critics believe that the enactment of these prohibitive measures form part of a comprehensive campaign by Putin to quell online insurgents and silence unruly protesters. Under fanciful claims that the steps taken are propelling the nation towards a safer environment for the nurturing of children, the Russian President could be seeking to nip arrangements for protests in the bud and identify key rabble rousers.
There are those who consider the legislature to be a prelude to further preventative measures, with some believing Vladimir Putin’s next item to tick off the purging list to be social media sites.
Influential Russian blogger & internet aficionado, Anton Nosik, remarked: ““The new policy is to restrict free information exchange, restrict expression of opinion, be it in written text, speech or video. They want to restrict everything because they’re headed towards the glorious past.”
These developments mark Russia’s first showing of their hand, as they drop the façade of advocating free speech on the internet. Since Putin’s denunciation of the internet as a “CIA Project”, the West have been on red alert regarding Russia’s increasingly totalitarian approach. Fears of unbalancing the global political spectrum have been enough to prevent meaningful action from being taken, however there is only so much liberty a nation’s regime can snatch away from its electorate without being held to account.