The Russian government is considering a law that would punish social media platforms and websites it deemed inaccurate — a law which critics argue would limit freedom of speech on the internet.
If passed, the law would require sites with more than 100,000 daily visitors to remove the post within 24 hours or face a fine of 50 million rubles (about $793,000). The bill passed one of three votes in Russian Parliament, The New York Times reported Sunday.
The law would “become an instrument of censorship,” said the head of an association of social media users in Russia, Vladimir V. Zykov, in a meeting with lawmakers.
Until recently, most of the Russian people did not have access to the internet and as a result of its expanding usage, many websites are state-owned in Russia, unless the site is internationally recognized and has a lot of traffic — such as Google, Twitter or Facebook.
Only about eight percent of Russians had access to the internet in 2004; that number increased to about 76 percent by 2016. (RELATED: DHS: Russian Actors Infiltrated Electric Grids, Possibly Causing Blackouts – Attack Might Be Ongoing)
“Control through ownership over the Russian Internet companies has increased, but in a finely calibrated fashion in order not to spark discontent and risk the formation of a social movement,” according to one study published by Taylor and Francis Online in 2015.
The authors of the study, titled “Internet control through ownership: the case of Russia,” added that “increasing and more systematic control through ownership carries with it considerable long-term consequences and costs, both when it comes to the modernization of Russia and in terms of possible rising discontent if Internet users no longer accept that the repressive measures taken are in their interest.”
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