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The Russian Government Has Started Censoring the Internet


The New York Times reports that Russia has begun censoring the Internet inside its borders, acting on a law that was passed back in November.

The intention of the censorship act is to prevent easy access to information that could potentially harm children or that contravenes the law.

Although smaller sites have been affected, major social networks, including Facebook and Twitter, have also been targeted under the new law. Both companies have complied with requests from the government, with Facebook recently removing a page that had to do with suicide. Both companies complied because the content violated terms of use, according to the Times. So far, however, Google has refused to comply with the initiative and last month filed a lawsuit in a Russian court, arguing that it should be allowed to keep videos on its site, regardless of the government's issues.

Critics of the law say the censorship mechanisms are easy to abuse, and that the government could use them to oppose dissent.

Microsoft recently reported government requests for user data, and the figures indicated monitoring of activists in Russia.

Web censorship is certainly nothing new. Around the world, including in China and several Middle Eastern countries, censorship is commonplace. In some cases, the censorship is designed to protect a country's ruling party. In others, the censorship is designed to "protect" users from unsavory topics across the Web. In either case, it draws the ire of organizations that believe the Web should be free and open.

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