Moscow Protests Against Internet Bill

Alfred Osborne
March 12, 2019

At least 16 people were arrested ahead of the protests, which were authorized by authorities.

There were pockets of violence during Sunday's protest with a few demonstrators being detained. More importantly, they advocate that the Domain Name System could prevent the dissemination of "fake" and "disrespectful" information capable of triggering social unrest. "There are a lot of repressive laws on free speech and other things already", an elderly woman at the protest told DW. "It reminds me of my youth, and I don't want this for my children and my grandchildren".

Last month, Russian politicians supported legislation that could see it disconnect from the worldwide internet to test its cyberdefenses - a notion critics compared to an "online iron curtain".

"If they take that, we will have nothing", Mikhail Svetov from the Libertarian Party told DW. "That is very scary".

Russian authorities have attempted to shut down the popular encrypted communications app Telegram without success.

"Everyone is in favor of internet freedom - the authors of the bill, the presidential administration and the government", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

The bill calls for the creation of a system that would protect Russian Federation in the event of cyberwar while also filtering Internet traffic to the country, but there has been debate about how realistic that is and how much it would cost.

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The bill also paves the way for mandatory "drills", which would test where the internet in Russian Federation could operate in an isolated mode.

Nikolai Lyaskin, an aide to opposition leader Aleksei Navalny, called the bill yet another step by the authorities to "tighten the screws" on Internet freedom, and urged the Russians to rally against "this madness".

This is not the first time Russian Federation lawmakers have clamped down on internet freedoms.

Clampdown: The new bill is part of wider plans by Russian Federation to have more oversight of what happens online.

According to protest organizers, the controversial bill, which aims to disconnect Russia's Internet service from the global network, is an attempt by the government to increase censorship and stifle dissent.

February's bill passed in the Russian parliament on the first reading out of three.

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