Putin signs controversial new bill regulating Internet

File Reuters

UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill on Wednesday that would allow Russian authorities to isolate the country from the world, a move denounced by human rights groups.

Russian lawmakers stress that the new law is necessary to ensure the security of Russian Internet networks, but opponents say the law, which contains vague provisions, gives regulatory powers to government agencies.

Authorities on Wednesday published the text of the law, which will not take effect until November.

The law provides for the development of a mechanism to monitor the Internet traffic in Russia and away from foreign servers, ostensibly to prevent a foreign country from affecting them.

The authors of the initiative say that Russia must ensure the security of its networks, after US President Donald Trump revealed last year a new US strategy for Internet security that Russia has launched electronic attacks and escaped accountability.

Thousands of people in Russia have recently protested against the bill, which observers say is aimed at restricting information and communication over the Internet.

Putin signed in March other controversial laws allowing the courts to fine and imprison people who show disrespect towards the authorities and ban media outlets that publish “misleading news.”

The laws are part of a continuing campaign by the Kremlin over the media and Internet freedoms that have seen people jailed for scandals.

Last week, 10 international human rights organizations called on Russia to repeal Internet law.

“The law created a system that gives the authorities the power to block access to parts of the Internet in Russia,” a statement supported by organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders and others said.

The ban would be “extrajudicial and lacks transparency,” the statement said.

Under the new law, Russian Internet service providers will also need to ensure that their networks have the technology to “centrally control traffic” to address possible threats.

The surveillance will be carried out in particular by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Russian communications control agency Roscommandzur, which is accused of arbitrarily blocking content on the Internet.

In previous years, Russian authorities have hidden sites linked to the opposition and others have refused to cooperate with them, such as Daily Motion, LinkedIn and Telegram.

This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for VOP from different countries around the world – edited and published by VOP staff in our newsroom.

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