The Russian Government Has Started Censoring the Internet

It's no secret that the likes of China and Iran censor the internet to within an inch of its life, but now there's a new Big Brother blocking content: Russia.

The New York Times reports that the Russian government has recently been making heavy use of a new law to "block Internet content that it deems illegal or harmful to children". That's seen authorities demand that Facebook, Twitter and YouTube remove material that their officials had determined was objectionable. So far, only YouTube has resisted.

The law in question, which was introduced in November, is supposed to allow the Russian government to protect children. From the New York Times:

The child protection law, they say, builds a system for government officials to demand that companies selectively block individual postings, so that contentious material can be removed without resorting to a countrywide ban on, for example, Facebook or YouTube, which would reflect poorly on Russia's image abroad and anger Internet users at home.

So far, Russia's use of the law seems to sensible: it successfully lobbied Facebook to remove a suicide-themed user group, and has worked with Twitter to remove tweets related to an attempt to deal in illegal drugs. But as with all censorship, there will inevitably be grayer areas where consensus over what should and shouldn't be taken down is more difficult to reach. When that day comes, it will be interesting to see how Russian officials act. [New York Times]

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