NOVOSIBIRSK, November 9 (RIA Novosti) – Russia's telecoms watchdog, Roskomnadzor, has blacklisted over 180 websites for offensive content. Access to these sites within Russia will now be blocked.
“Our experts are working hard and today more than 180 websites have been added to the register,” Roskomnadzor chief Aleksandr Zharov said, adding that the agency is now considering another 6,000 complaints about offensive content.
“There are now only three websites which have yet to be blocked by the host providers. They are located outside Russia and communications providers are working to block them,” Zharov said.
The law to create a register of blacklisted websites, that aims to protect Russians from harmful content, was approved by the Russian parliament in July.
Under this law, the authorities can now block access to sites containing child porn, drug-related material and details about how to commit suicide without first having to obtain a court order or go to court.
Other sites containing offensive material can be shut down by court order.
The agency launched its register of blacklisted sites, zapret-info.gov.ru, on November 1.
The site reviews complaints lodged by members of the public, who can submit screenshots and URLs of the offending sites.
Rights groups condemned the move as an attempt to crack down on internet freedom.
In the first 24 hours of its existence, zapret-info.gov.ru logged over 5,000 complaints of offensive content, 96 percent of which were rejected.
The first website containing child porn was forced offline on Tuesday.
Russian social networking companies, including VKontakte (a Russian alternative to Facebook) have also been urged to remove offensive material, Roskomnadzor chief said. “The response from national social networking sites has been comprehensive and constructive, we have no problems with them,” Zharov said.
Last week, Google and YouTube also confirmed that they agreed “to receive information from the register regarding content banned in Russia,” the country's communications oversight agency said.
Among the victims was suicide prevention website Pobedish.ru, which was ordered to take down a page detailing means of suicide and their shortcomings. The telecoms watchdog did not elaborate on the reasons for blacklisting the page.