Internet censorship bill passes upper house of Russian Parliament
Despite criticisms and Wikipedia protests, Russia’s upper house of parliament passed a controversial draft law today that would give the government far-reaching power over the internet in the country. The New York Times reports that the Federation Council of Russia passed the legislation 147 to 0, with three members abstaining, and matches the version that passed the lower house, the State Duma, earlier this month. Once signed into law, it will grant the Russian government the ability to shut down any website that it deems harmful to children — namely sites featuring child pornography, information about drugs, or information on how to commit suicide.
Opponents see the law as the first step down a slippery slope that could lead to random censorship of websites and free speech, however, with FCC chairman Julius Genachowski recently characterizing the law as “troubling and dangerous.” Strident objections from the Russian-language version of Wikipedia, the country’s Yandex search engine, and the Russian social networking site Vkontakte may have been responsible for minor changes to the language used in the law, which saw the blanket term “harmful information” swapped for the more specific types of dangerous content it now specifies. It will now be making its way to the desk of President Vladimir Putin, and once signed will become law.