Russia passes controversial Internet bill despite censorship concerns
12.07.12 12:14 By Ekaterina Vinokurova, edited by Karina Ayvazova
Activists think the new law might lead to Internet censorship Photo: KIRILL LEBEDEV
The Russian parliament has passed a controversial bill which some opposition bloggers and activists claim will lead to Internet censorship.
The law draft "protecting children from harmful information" was approved in the second and third readings on Wednesday.
When discussed in the first reading, the bill caused a scandal as according to it, "any site containing harmful information for children" might be closed without a pre-trial procedure. That definition was so vague it could potentially lead to the closing of any and all websites which deputies label "extremist."
On Tuesday, however, some amendments were brought into the law draft which specified reasons why a website could be closed.
MPs decided to decline the blurred definition of "harmful information" and suggested three specific reasons for a website to be blacklisted: child pornography, drug propaganda, or suicide information.
Gazeta.ru's source in the State Duma said that the amendments became possible after the Russian Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, interfered. He noticed the protest reaction of such Internet giants as Wikipedia,Yandex, and Livejournal. Wikipedia closed its Russian website for one day, Yandex crowed out its slogan "Find everything" and Livejournal offered to submit a protest petition against the bill.
The new law is due to come into force on November 1. By that time, a single register of websites containing illegal information will be created. Website owners and Internet providers will have to close all blacklisted pages.
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