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Internet restriction bill raises concerns in Russia

July 17, 2012

Russian lawmakers recently approved a bill in the lower house of parliament that is causing quite a stir. The bill in question is meant to protect children from viewing harmful material specifically, but opposers are worried President Putin and the United Russia Party will use the legislation to censor and exert control over internet usage in Russia, according to Reuters. Many fear the government will try to shut down Facebook and Twitter among other social networking sites.

On Tuesday, Russian Wikipedia blacked out its website in protest of the questionable law, claiming it would give the Russian government the ability to blacklist and filter websites at will, the Los Angeles Times reports. Other Russian sites have also raised concerns, and search engine Yandex provided a link to an opposition statement on its main page on Wednesday. The statement claimed the bill needed further review by experts on the subject.

"The proposed methods of child protection allow for potential misuse and raise numerous questions from Internet users and companies," Ochir Mandzhikov, a Yandex spokesman, told Reuters in an email. "In a bill like this, it is necessary to maintain the balance of public interests while taking into account the technological aspects of the Internet."

Those who want to discuss the new law with their friends can make calls to Russia with international phone cards.

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