Updated 18 May, 2013, 5:40 pm IST
Russian Wikipedia shuts for a day to protest new censorship law
| by Anuradha Shetty |
Internet censorship has been one of the most talked about topics this past year. Several governments have laid down stringent Internet laws and the latest country to have joined this list is Russia. The Russian government has proposed amendments to the "Law On Information," and a discussion is in place in the State Duma of the Russian Federation on the topic. If accepted, then these amendments may put into effect 'a real censorship on the Internet' in the country, leading to the closure of services, like Wikipedia in Russian.
Today, even as the debate on the proposed amendments continues, the hugely popular multilingual Internet encyclopedia has decided to shut for a day in protest against the proposed amendments. If these amendments are approved the nation's Internet will be subject to censorship, blacklisting and filtering websites. July 11 will be the second hearing in this respect, and it is only after the third hearing that a final decision can be expected. At the moment, however, the date for the third hearing hasn't been disclosed.
If you try to access Wikipedia in Russian today, you will be greeted by the image below (originally in Russian, translated). In an official post, Wikipedia stated, "Lobbyists and activists supporting the amendments, argue that they are directed exclusively against the content such as child pornography "and things like that," but to follow the provisions and wording to be discussed, will result in the creation of a Russian analogue of the "Great Chinese Firewall." The practice of law, which exists in Russia, says a high probability of worst-case scenario, in which access to Wikipedia was soon to be closed across the country."
Wikipedia in Russian shuts down in protest against Internet censorship
Early this year, to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), Wikipedia observed a site blackout. CEO, Jimmy Wales had begun tweeting that he'd started to do press interviews on the Wikipedia blackout and has even started a hashtag for the topic, called simply #WikipediaBlackout. He also tweeted that he hopes Wikipedia will melt phone systems in Washington on Wednesday and in another tweet, called out to students to do their homework early, because "Wikipedia protesting bad law on Wednesday".
Further on their official site, Wikipedia details, "Supporters of the law's proposition say that it is aimed only at widely prohibited content such as child pornography and «information like this», but conditions for determining the content falls under this law will create a thing like the «great Chinese firewall». The existing Russian law's practice shows the high possibility of the worst scenatio, in which access to Wikipedia soon will be closed in all country."
Wikipedia has been protesting SOPA from the beginning itself. They supported Dump GoDaddy Day in December when the domain service had proclaimed support for SOPA and when Reddit declared a blackout on the 18th of January, Wales quickly put a poll out to users to ask, if they should join in on the blackout. However, Twitter CEO, Dick Costolo had called Wikipedia's blackout "foolish" and "silly". According to the Guardian, Costolo has said, "That's just silly. Closing a global business in reaction to single-issue national politics is foolish."
Internet censorship has been a raging topic back home, too. Even as you're reading this, popular social networking site, Facebook, among others is fighting a legal battle, over allegedly hosting objectionable content on their sites, thereby being potent of harming the nation's peace and harmony. The year, so far, also saw protests throughout the nation by hacking group, Anonymous, against Internet censorship in the country.
Tags: Wikipedia , Wikipedia blackout , State Duma of the Russian Federation , Wikipedia in Russian , Law on Information , Web Censorship , Wikipedia Censorship , Internet Censorship , SOPA , Stop Online Piracy Act
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