Russia: New campaign to uphold digital rights in Russia against repressive restrictions online

Digital 3 min read
ARTICLE 19

On 7 March 2018 Russia’s Duma passed new legislation to impose greater restrictions on online media. The law severely undermines the right to freedom of expression, criminalizing anyone who insults the state.  

This is the latest in a series of legislative moves by the Duma to increase state control of the Internet: restricting development of Internet business and information flow online. Despite constant criticism from experts and civil society, repressive bills which restrict Internet freedom and digital rights have been passed quickly and turned into laws.

ARTICLE 19 supports the new campaign of our partner RosKomSvoboda, an organisation committed to countering online censorship and promoting freedom of information in Russia.

The Digital Defence campaign (oborona.digital) brings together Internet users, industry representatives, website and service providers, IT specialists, bloggers and members of the scientific community and media to advocate effectively for their rights online.

Stop the adoption of Russia’s “On Sovereignty of Internet” draft bill

The campaign first proposes to unite efforts against one of the most restrictive bills, no. 608767-7 “On the sovereignty of Internet”. The bill, which passed its first reading in the Duma in February 2018, will have its second reading in March 2018. The draft law gives control over Internet network routing to the state regulator for Telecoms, Information Technologies and Mass Communications, Roskomnadzor. The bill also provides that Internet-providers use equipment which will filter traffic using deep packet analysis. Cross-border Internet traffic will also be kept under close state control. These proposals carry severe risks to the security and safety of users and undermine the rights to freedom of expression and access to information, even threatening to cut Russian users off from the World Wide Web.

Advocating for online freedoms

The Digital Defence campaign calls for these high-profile draft laws to be debated through open public hearings and online. It supports individuals to join the debate, providing news on events affecting Internet freedoms in Russia and guidance on how users can advocate for their rights by writing appeals to Duma deputies against the draft bill’s adoption. The campaign guidebook gives examples of appeals and extended expert opinions to support people to appeal. The campaign will also focus on state responses (or lack thereof) to these appeals and support individuals to assert their rights through court challenges.

ARTICLE 19 continues to call on Russian authorities to stop its campaign to restrict online freedoms in Russia. We support the Digital Defence campaign and its commitment to protecting freedoms of expression and information online.

Find out more about how you can support digital rights in Russia on the campaign website.