[JURIST] A controversial Russian Internet regulation law which gives the Russian government the ability to completely block access to certain websites went into effect on Thursday. The bill’s stated purpose is to block access [Moscow Times report] to child pornography and the encouragement of drug use or suicide. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) [advocacy website] criticized [press release] the law, however, because of its vague definition of what content is banned and the unclear process of how websites are chosen to be blacklisted. Under the law, an undefined and anonymous group of experts picks which websites are blacklisted and an entire website can be banned if even a single page has material deemed to be offensive. Individuals can check which websites are banned on a government website [materials, in Russian]. RSF also expressed concerns that this law was just a single part of a series of legislation designed to restrict the right of freedom of information and called on the Russian State Duma [official website, in Russian] to halt its attempts to stop the dissemination of information.
Internet freedom remains a controversial issue around the world. The UN Human Rights Council in July passed its first-ever resolution to protect the free speech [JURIST report] of individuals online. The resolution was approved by all 47 members of the council, including China and Cuba, which have been criticized for limiting Internet freedom. In June the Chinese Ministry of Information and Technology revealed its proposed changes to Chinese Internet law [JURIST report] that seek to limit the ability of users to post anonymous comments on micro-blogs and forums. A Bangkok criminal court in May sentenced [JURIST report] Chiranuch Premchaiporn, webmaster of independent Internet news site Prachatai, to an eight-month suspended sentence for failing to delete defamatory comments against Thailand’s royal family. Earlier that month, a Dutch court ordered [JURIST report] Internet service providers in the Netherlands to block the file-sharing website The Pirate Bay or else pay a fine of USD $12,750 per day.