Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed several internet censorship laws into force, including one that introduces crippling fines for failing to remove banned material.
Although sexually explicit content is technically legal in Russia, existing
laws banning the illegal production, dissemination and advertisement of pornographic materials and objects and other laws claiming to protect the health of Russian children are deployed by the state at its own discretion against sites hosting adult
The end-of-the-year legislative package signed into law by Putin, according to Reuters , also grants the Russian government new powers to restrict U.S. social media giants, label individuals 'foreign agents,' and to crack down on the
disclosure of its security officers' personal data.
One of the measures was a response complaints about supposed bias and prejudice shown by Facebook, Twitter and YouTube against Russian media. If social media companies block Russian websites then
these social media websites will be blocked in Russia.
Another of the new laws introduces hefty fines of up to 20% of their previous year's Russia-based turnover for sites that repeatedly fail to remove content banned in Russia.
Russian lawmakers have moved a step closer to allowing state censors to block Internet platforms like Facebook and YouTube if they are deemed to have censored content produced by Russians.
Russia's lower house of parliament, which passed draft
legislation in a third reading, said in a media release that authorities can target platforms if they have been found to limit information based on nationality and language. The lower house State Duma added that Internet websites could also be sanctioned
in the event of discrimination against the content of Russian media.
The legislation now needs to get approval from the upper house Federation Council before President Vladimir Putin signs it into law .
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has analysed the provisions of a new set of online content regulations that the Pakistani government decreed without any consultation with stakeholders, and which are clearly designed to impose draconian online censorship.
Published last month by the information ministry and entitled Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight and Safeguards), Rules 2020 , the new regulations replace an earlier set of rules that were suspended in
February because of a civil society outcry .They have ended up going much further, granting disproportionate and discretionary powers to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), the online content regulator, which is a direct government offshoot.
On national security grounds, the rules provide for the withdrawal or blocking of any content that excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the federal or provincial government or harms the reputation of any person holding public
office. It is equally concerning that the rules also provide for the censorship of any content regarded as indecent, immoral or harmful to the glory of Islam , without giving any precise definition of these extremely vague concepts. The
interpretation is left to the PTA, which thereby acquires arbitrary and almost infinite powers.
The rules also empower the PTA to act as both plaintiff and judge. It is the PTA that decides, without reference to a court , whether content violates the
criminal code and, worse still, it is the PTA that reexamines cases in the event of a challenge, and rules on any appeals.
Platforms are also legally obliged to hand over user data when asked, including data from private and encrypted communications.
And platforms with more than 500,000 users are required to open an office in Pakistan, install servers there and register with the authorities.