MOSCOW, April 25 (RAPSI) - Russian internet users have set up a new association to campaign for their rights and freedoms in cyberspace, the Russian Pirate Party announced on Thursday.
"The Association of Internet Users (AIU) was established in April 2013 in response to numerous laws restricting online freedom in Russia, including the freedoms of speech and expression. The association will protect the rights of Internet users," the association said in a statement on its official website, Freerunet.Ru.
Russia passed a law in July 2012 allowing the government to regulate certain websites, particularly those containing child pornography, or encouraging illegal drug use or promoting suicide. The law has already been used to regulate some websites including some pages of the Wikipedia online encyclopedia. Critics worry it could be misused by the government to clamp down on political opposition.
The Association will also protect data and access to knowledge and cultural values online, participation in Internet moderation, education and other issues.
The Association was launched by the Agora human rights organization, representatives of the Pirate Party, an association of online publishers, the RuBlackList, an online freedom of speech organization, and a number of experts. The AIU will be co-chaired by Russian Wikipedia CEO Stanislav Kozlovsky and Pirate Party Vice Chairman Stanislav Shakirov.
There are several existing organizations in Russia dealing with Internet development, including the Russian Association for Electronic Communications and a Russian branch of ISOC (Internet Society) which opened this month.