New law threatens free internet

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Alla Zabrovskaya, director of public relations at Google Russia The

State Duma, in the name of child safety, passed bill No. 89417-6 in the second and third readings, which provides for blocking of websites containing illegal content by hosting providers and telecom operators. We certainly support the intention of lawmakers to protect children on the Internet. However, we believe that possible negative consequences from the application of the law will exceed the expected positive effect, jeopardizing user access to legal resources.

Over the past few years, we have done a lot to protect children online. All our products have custom filters built in, including safe search andSafe view video on YouTube . We also launched the “ Useful to Know ” and “ Child Safety Guide ” educational portals in Russia , which contain information about risks on the Internet. Google categorically does not accept the presence of child pornography on the Internet: we remove similar content from all our resources and from search results.

The adopted law provides for blocking of Internet resources by hosting providers and telecom operators by domain names and network addresses. Since many websites and services can be hosted on the same IP address, this means that while restricting access to individual material, other resources that do not violate the law may be closed.

How will it look in practice? Today, 1,300,000 blogs hosted on Blogger have been blocked in Russia as a result of a court decision restricting access to one blog post that has been recognized as extremist. As soon as Google became aware of the existence of such material, it was deleted, because contrary to Russian law and the policy of using the Blogger service. However, the Russian telecom operator, which has blocked the IP address in accordance with a court decision, continues to restrict access to the entire resource.

Many of our users remember another case: in July 2010, the Komsomolsk-on-Amur District Court ordered the local provider to restrict access to the entire YouTube resource by domain name because of one clip that the court recognized as extremist and which the YouTube team deleted, upon receipt of notice.

Until today, these were isolated cases, but with the entry into force of the law, such practice may become the norm. First of all, Russian Internet users who will not be able to access legal content will suffer from it.

We are convinced that there are more effective ways to combat illegal content than those proposed by law. We look forward to a constructive dialogue between lawmakers, industry and the user community in order to jointly develop effective methods for protecting Web users that would not restrict access to legal information and would not become an obstacle to the development of the Internet in Russia.

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