The Kremlin’s plans to crack down on internet freedoms prompted thousands of protesters recently to take to the streets of Moscow and other cities.
A proposed government measure would funnel all internet traffic through state-controlled servers, which would allow the government to cut off the Russian internet from the rest of the global network.
Critics of the draft law say that if it is approved, it would spur censorship and unfurl an “online Iron Curtain” over Russia that isolates its citizens from the rest of the world.
This would not be the first time Russia has trampled on internet freedoms. Earlier this month, the Duma approved — and President Vladimir Putin signed — two bills that would fine media outlets and individuals if they publish news that criticizes or insults the government online.
Authorities also have blocked access to certain websites and encrypted messaging services like Telegram.
One demonstrator at today’s protest for internet freedom is holding up a holy “icon” of Pavel Durov, the creator of #Telegram. Russia’s media watchdog has tried unsuccessfully to block it for not giving up its encryption keys to the security services. pic.twitter.com/IcFz3pBPMH
— Emily Sherwin (@EmilyCSherwin) March 10, 2019
The bill has already sailed through the first of three readings in the Duma, the lower house of parliament. If it passes, it would have to be signed by the upper house of parliament and then by Putin.
The protests started in Moscow, Khabarovsk and Voronezh and had been officially authorized. A small group of activists demonstrated in St. Petersburg.
This article was written by freelance writer Lenore T. Adkins and drew from the Associated Press.