A bill proposing a single blacklist of illegal websites came under fire from the Russia’s Presidential Human Rights Council because it could potentially lead to censorship on the Runet (Russian internet), according to RIA Novosti. Head Mikhail Fedotov, along with twenty other members of the council, expressed concern that, “the bill envisions the introduction of real censorship in the Russian sphere of the internet,” in a signed statement.
Russian Wikipedia has also come out in protest against the bill, shutting down for 24 hours before the bill is reviewed by State Duma on 11 July. In a statement posted on the Russian-language Wikipedia’s homepage, it likened the bill to the Great Firewall of China.
Submitted 7 June to the State Duma, the bill has the support of all four party factions in the lower house. It proposes that a new federal agency be set up to monitor and accumulate a single blacklist of sites that show pornography or promote drug use, suicide, or extremist ideas. Both the agency and Russia’s courts will have the right to add items. Currently the Ministry of Justice has a blacklist of extremist materialswith 1,199 items. The list includes websites, song lyrics, audio recordings, and printed materials. The new list would have a greater focus on online materials.
The council proposed that the bill be withdrawn and put up for public consultation. Former President Medvedev said in a speech last year that Russia would not support restrictions to freedom on the internet.