Censorship: Internet providers opposed to early-stage content filtering

posted 18 May 2015, 10:12 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 18 May 2015, 10:17 ]
12 May 2015

Source: HRO.org (info
Internet service providers and media companies have voiced their opposition to proposals to start filtering Web content, purportedly "to protect children from harmful information", Grani.ru reports, citing Kommersant

The President of the Media-Communication Union (MCU), Sergei Petrov, has written to the Director of Roskomnadzor, Aleksandr Zharov, and to the head of the State Duma Committee on Information Policy, Leonid Levin, to point out that the proposal is impractical. Algorithms for semantic filtering do not work with video; only text. There is currently no hardware or software system available that makes it possible to filter encrypted traffic.

Moreover, the MCU believes that implementation of such proposals would lead to higher costs for operators. The cost of Internet access would rise, while investment in network development would fall. Small providers may not be able to afford the costly equipment and would be forced to exit the market.

Furthermore, according to the MCU, it is not just Internet service providers who are responsible for information that gets disseminated; those who control the dissemination of information also play a part. That includes Internet sites or bloggers with a daily readership of over 3 million individual visitors.

"Whoever controls the dissemination of information should be held responsible for its content, as that may be either the person producing the information (website) and editing it, or the person who has obtained the rights to store, retrieve and disseminate it (website, online cinema, social network, search engine, Web hosting provider, and so on)," says the document.

In August, a proposal was made to introduce two-tier Internet content filtering that would use lists of sites banned by Roskomnadzor and intelligent recognition of dangerous content.

At the start of December 2014, it was reported that the State Duma intends to pass a law on the mandatory filtering of Internet content at the level of the service provider.

"It is quite evident that substantial top-down pressure will be brought to bear to carry forward the amendments, including from presidential aide Igor Schegolev. It is in his interests for [the amendments] to be passed as soon as possible, ideally before the new year," says the source of the publication. 

Translated by Lindsay Munford