Russia ‘SOPA-style’ censorship bill passes parliament

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Image: Skye Suicide/Flickr (Creative Commons)

The lower house of Russia’s parliament, the Duma, has passed a bill that will censor “harmful material” despite critics from popular websites – including LiveJournal and the Russian version of Wikipedia -  labelling the law as similar to SOPA.

The new laws will see a non-governmental internet watchdog, according to state-owned Russia Today, that will request companies to restrict access to harmful content. If they refuse, then the page would be part of its blocklist that ISPs will have to implement. It was amended on Tuesday night to strictly define sites – such as those advocating suicide, substance abuse, and child pornography – after it was halted in its second reading.

However, these have not eased concerns that these would be used to restrict internet freedoms.

Yesterday, the Russian version of Wikipedia adopted a similar tactic that its English-language cousin by going on strike and blocking access to the site, replacing it with a page. Yandex, the biggest search engine in Russia, described the methods as something that would “create room for possible misuse and raise questions from Internet users and company representatives,” according to the AFP.

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