The Internet should be free, but also operate on a set of rules that the global community has yet to work out, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday.
Medvedev, a noted Internet enthusiast, was referring to a bill to create a unified blacklist of Internet websites, which was passed in its second and third readings by the State Duma on Wednesday.
Critics have said the bill could bring about a system of online censorship not unlike the “Great Chinese Firewall.” The Russian Wikipedia staged a one-day protest against the bill, shutting down its operations on Tuesday.
The ruling United Russia, which penned the bill, insists it is aimed solely at protecting children from online pedophiles and harmful content. Protests have prompted legislators to impose very strict criteria on the inclusion of websites on the blacklist in an attempt to rule out political censorship.
Both the right of freedom of information and of protection from harmful content should be upheld online, Medvedev said in Moscow at a meeting of United Russia, which he heads.