Russia to adopt China’s censorship on digital content

Internet censorship is synonymous with the Chinese government as institutionalized agencies continue to suppress what can be published, accessed or viewed on the internet notwithstanding the huge public outcry on human rights violations.

cyber security firewall

Russia, an ally to the People’s Republic of China, says it is considering Xi Jin Ping’s approach to digital content.

Vladimir Putin refers to his latest crackdown on media content as a “CIA Project”.

According to a report from Billboard, “Putin and his people are sure that all things are constructed like a hierarchy, but the Internet is a net and everyone can participate in the process,” Irina Borogan was quoted as saying.

Borogan is a co-author of “The Red Web,” a new book about the Russian Internet.

Individuals and and organizations around the world have engaged in self-censorship for different reasons: moral, religious or for business. However, there are a few cases where intimidation or fear of legal actions have forced people to let go of their rights.

A recent report from Kremlin says Putin’s government is working out plans with China centered on new ways of media censorship.

Access to LinkedIn was blocked in Russia earlier this month over an alleged personal data protection law. The decision was widely seen as a policy shift.

Internet censorship varies among countries. While some governments adopt “moderate censorship”, other extremists go as far as limiting access to news and online interactions among citizens.

In China, the government claims it uses internet censorship as a control tool against protests, violence, crime and as a check on the country’s moral foundations.

Issues on copyrights, harassment or character assassination are hardly on the radar though such have been included in recent years.

Galina Timchenko, a former employee at the Russian news website was fired after she proudly told reporters how she edited over 3 million articles per day.

Timchenko said the unsuspecting website owner was shocked to hear about this.

“At that moment something snapped inside and I understood that this is the end, because there cannot be such an influential resource that is not controlled by the Kremlin,” Timchenko said, according to Billboard.

On September, Putin’s government enacted laws which required companies to keep a list of internet searches from citizens. Information from social networks as well as online money transfers are also to be made available to government agencies on request.

Timchenko told the Associated Press in an interview: “It’s a difficult situation because none of these laws are needed – all the laws that have been brought into force in the last one and a half years. Because terror is not when they get everyone all at once, but when they can get anyone at any moment for any reason.”

Her comments were aimed at thrashing Kremlin’s claim on “terrorism” as the reason for its growing need for censorship.

In 2014, Putin placed a ban on every online content which is considered “extremist”.

Internet censorship has been a source of an ending debate among people from all walks of life.

In a 2012 Internet Society survey 71% of respondents agreed that “censorship should exist in some form on the Internet”.

Surprisingly, another 83% agreed that “access to the Internet should be considered a basic human right”.

In the same survey, a total of 86% agreed that “freedom of expression should be guaranteed on the Internet”.

According to Global Web Index, “over 400 million people use virtual private networks to circumvent censorship or for increased level of privacy.”

“There is a trend for stepping up cooperation with Chinese companies for supply of telecom and IT equipment,” Dmitry Marinichev [Russia’s internet regulator] told Billboard in an interview.

“But that absolutely does not mean that China will be allowed into the heart of Russia’s information security.”

Marinichev added that China, though a trusted ally, will not be allowed influence Russia into adopting its “highly restrictive” control on media content.

“[Russia and China] are actively cooperating in the development of information technologies and their security and protection,” Denis Davydov [director of the League of Safe Internet] told Billboard.

“Certainly, the experience of China, which is at the cutting edge, is of interest to us.”

There is no doubt that China’s censorship has benefited local businesses like Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent against international rivals. In a way, this has encouraged domestic competition.

How internet censorship will work for Russia is yet to be seen.