Russian lawmakers want to start regulating the volunteers who help rat out ‘Internet offenders’
Lawmakers from United Russia are planning to introduce draft legislation that would regulate the country’s patchwork system of “cyber-neighborhood-watch” (adult volunteers who report illegal online content to law enforcement agencies. The law will likely apply to a wide variety of illegal Internet content, including child pornography, hate speech, alcohol sales, prostitution, and far more.
According to human rights monitors at Roskomsvoboda, Russian courts have blocked more than 76,000 websites. State prosecutors frequently submit virtually identical paperwork to judges on multiple websites at once, and courts only very rarely reject censorship requests. The owners and operators of these websites, moreover, typically aren’t invited to these legal proceedings, despite a ruling by Russia’s Supreme Court in April 2018 that this practice is unlawful.
So what’s the main takeaway here? With more volunteers reporting to Roskomnadzor, the Attorney General’s Office, and other agencies in a regulated system, the Russian authorities would likely block even more Internet content.