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MOSCOW, December 18. /ITAR-TASS World Service/. Members of the State Duma lower house of Russia’s parliament on Tuesday adopted in the first reading a bill that allows to block websites that post “illegal information” without a court ruling. To do this, the prosecutor general only has to turn to the Federal Supervision Agency for Information Technologies and Communications (Roskomnadzor) with a request to take measures to restrict access to internet resources that spread prohibited content.
One of the authors of the bill, deputy head of the house Committee on Security and Combating Corruption Andrei Lugovoi (LDPR faction) said that the bill was aimed “at the improvement of the mechanism of the protection of the society from illegal information,” namely “information, containing calls for mass riots, extremist activity, incitement of ethnic and religious hatred, participation in terrorist activity and in mass events held with violation of the rules,” the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper writes. The prosecutor general or his deputy, having spotted illegal information in the Internet, will turn to Roskomnadzor, which will contact communications operators that must “immediately” restrict access to the website or information posted on it. And the hosting provider will notify the resource owner that it is necessary to delete that or other information, and when it is deleted, Roskomnadzor will “immediately” take measures to resume the work of the web resource.
Kommersant published an article entitled “Unsanctioned meetings will be cut short in the Internet”.
It will be possible to block any Internet site extrajudicially, if prosecutors find on it calls to extremism, terrorism and participation in unsanctioned rallies, the newspaper writes. The opposition members believe that the authorities by this “crackdown” react to the developments in Ukraine.
Lugovoi’s idea has been approved by three Duma committees — on security, on constitutional legislation and on the affairs of nationalities, the newspaper stresses. And head of the information policy committee Alexei Mitrofanov has promised to adopt the draft law before the end of the current Duma session. He recalled that since the spring of 2012 a law that allows the oversight bodies to block websites that spread child pornography, information about suicide and drugs, is in effect in Russia. In addition, the websites that spread literature or other materials that have been recognized extremist by a court decision are also subject to blocking extrajudicially.
The lawmakers did not object to the idea of cutting short the calls to extremism and incitement of hatred through extrajudicial procedures. However, mentioning of extremism got the opposition members’ attention. “Who will determine the extremist nature of information?” MP from the Communist Party (CPRF) Valentin Romanov asked. “The prosecutor general and his deputies,” Mitrofanov replied, although under the Law “On Combating Extremism” only judges have the right to do that.
Leader of the Yabloko party Sergei Mitrokhin told the Kommersant daily that the new amendments are “an attempt to curb the coordination of the action similar to the currently taken by the protesters in Ukraine.” Mitrokhin also believes that “the people will not surrender the freedom to write in the Internet just for nothing.”
“Russia’s international image will be once again discredited by such a law,” head of the Russian Presidential Human Rights Council Mikhail Fedotov told the newspaper. “We will have no extremist websites, but we will have extremism.”
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