Russia is experiencing Internet paranoia
Since 2011 Russia has continually intensified its Internet censorship efforts. Vladimir Putin has supported the trend toward more online control since he came back to the Kremlin in 2012.
In recent news Russia has also reportedly entertained the idea of disconnecting the country's Internet from the rest of the world. As relations with the West continue to erode, the move to separate could preempt enemies of the country from disconnecting Russia's Internet from the broader world wide web themselves.
Some studies show that Russians like Internet censorship
Interestingly, a new study cited by The Moscow Times shows that the majority of Russians support Internet censorship. The poll, administered by the Levada Center, showed that 54 percent of respondents believe censorship is good in the face of an increasing number of websites that pose a threat to the nation. Thirty-one percent of respondents were against the regulation and 16 percent were undecided, the news source noted.
A similar poll was conducted in 2012 in which 63 percent of respondents supported online censorship, reported VPN creative. This year's poll showed a small decrease in the support for limiting online freedom.
Yet another poll, administered in September, interviewed 1,630 adult citizens across Russia and found that only 15 percent were in favor of a bill that limits access to the internet, reported The Moscow Times. The discrepancy in the numbers of these various polls, however, brings into question the accuracy of the data in the first place.
What is known for sure is that in July a law was signed which allows the government to sentence people to five years in prison for disseminating information that is of an extremist nature. Another law, called "bloggers law," was also created to introduce extensive requirements for the governing of bloggers. Certain writers would be identified and put on a list to undergo scrutiny for libel, obscene language and inflammatory remarks, reported VPN Creative.
The Russian government is paranoid
Also in July the government proposed a law requiring all websites storing user information on Russian citizens to transfer that data to Russian servers. The idea behind the move was to keep citizen information contained within and also make Russian websites free of user information from outside of the country. This would apply to social networking sites, online retailers and general information websites, added the news source.
All these recent trends point to Russia expanding its censorship and policing methods online. The communications regulator of the country already possesses the power to block websites that are deemed to be a threat without a court order. It would not be surprising if, over the next several months, Russians find themselves unable to access popular social networking sites and blogging platforms altogether. It is noteworthy to mention that most of the changes to Internet governance proposed by the Kremlin are motivated by fear. None of the suggested rules involve information-sharing, freedom of expression or innovation. It is apparent from recent trends that censorship is not born of healthy inspiration, but rather pessimism and negative views on society and the world at large.