Russia’s legislative lower house adopted a new internet censorship bill that will allow the government to shut down any websites that has material it finds offensive.
According to news agency, Ria Novosti, websites that contain drug references, pornography, promote suicide or any ideas that might be "extremist" may be blacklisted.
A blacklist is already running with "extremist" materials banned from courts, some of which even include musical recordings and leaflets. The list has currently has around 1200 entries.
Websites that breach the law would have 24 hours to remove offensive material or face blacklisting. Internet service providers will also have to cooperate in blacklisting sites or they risk being blacklisted themselves.
Julius Genachowski, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, said in a statement that the bill is taking Russia in a "troubling and dangerous direction."
"The world’s experience with the Internet provides a clear lesson: a free and open Internet promotes economic growth and freedom; restricting the free flow of information is bad for consumers, businesses, and societies.
The FCC Chair explained that he had attending the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia where he met with government officials in talks of expanding broadband access and promoting the Internet as a strong source for innovation, improved public services, and economic growth.
"A free open internet is essential to meeting these goals in Russia, as in all countries," said Genachowski. "Growing economies everywhere promote peace and stability. I believe this legislation will stifle investment in broadband and impede innovations that could advance Russia’s promising internet economy."
Some of the most popular websites in Russia like Wikipedia, LiveJournal, and the search engine Yandex, went on strike Tuesday, warning users that their freedom on the Internet was at risk.
Wikipedia’s Russian site shut down most of its access with a black censorship bar covering the Wikipedia logo and a message asking to imagine a world without free access to knowledge.
The website had a similiar protest when it went on strike against the SOPA Act.
The Internet censorship bill will not become law, however, unless Vladimir Putin signs it.
"While protecting children online is a legitimate governmental concern, the Duma’s bill, in its current form, could lead to restricting access to valuable Internet content and services and chilling innovation, economic opportunity, as well as free expression. I urge Russia to recognize the full benefits of a free and open Internet, including a stronger economy and more prosperous and free society."
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