Just a few day ago, August 1, 2014, Russia’s oppressive law for bloggers took effect. You haven’t heard of this? Probably because the fighting over the Gaza strip, Russia and the Ukraine, the downing of Malaysian Air flight 17, and Congresses’ plan on suing President Obama have been getting so much air time. All important news items, of course, but the enactment of this new law has been lost in the shuffle except for brief articles in a few major publications, and internet articles from small grass-roots organizations.
This new law requires anyone with a daily online audience of more than 3,000 people to register with the Russian Internet-oversight agency and to comply with mass media regulations that require bloggers to publish their names and contact details. Just the idea of having an “Internet-oversight agency” sends chills down my spines. The rules also hold bloggers liable for any misinformation that they publish — along with any misinformation contained in comments posted on their Web sites, even if the bloggers did not write the comments.
According to the BBC, the law was approved by Russia’s upper house of parliament in April. It includes measures to ensure that bloggers cannot remain anonymous, and states that social networks must maintain six months of data on its users. The information must be stored on servers based in Russian territory, so that government authorities can gain access.
Hugh Williamson, of New York-based Human Rights Watch, has called the law “another milestone in Russia’s relentless crackdown on free expression”.
“The internet is the last island of free expression in Russia and these draconian regulations are clearly aimed at putting it under government control,” he added
Two years ago, Russia enacted a law enabling authorities to blacklist and force certain websites offline without a trial. The government said the legislation was designed to protect children from harmful internet content, such as pro-suicide or pornography websites status in Russia.
Earlier in the year, Russia enacted a law that gave the government powers to block websites without explanation. In March, a blog for an organization run by Garry Kasparov, a vocal critic of the government, was blocked. One other blog and two news sites were blocked also
I don’t know who they are, but nearly every day I get three readers from Russia. It’s always three, so it makes me think it’s likely the same people each day. I can’t help but wonder if they are bloggers who will be affected by this law.
What concerns me most is the idea of similar laws that could be enacted here in the U.S. of A. Don’t worry, I haven’t gone off the deep end. I don’t believe this is something that could take place next week or even next year, but in many ways we are heading down that path. Check an ACLU webpage in your area and you’ll likely see many cases going to court where those freedoms were suppressed. The list for Southern California is extensive.
Below is a video of Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association, showing support for Russia’s extreme anti-obscenity laws that were enacted earlier this year . He believes U.S. states should do the same. American Family Association boasts over 500,000 members. Now it’s easy to dismiss AFA as a too radical religious organization whose extremist views are not supported by the American public, however, the AFA caters to extreme right politicians eager to gain money and votes from the misguided members of the AFA. It is critical that the American people no longer remain complacent about this issue.
Source: BBC News