On July 11, the Russian State Duma adopted a bill limiting freedom of information on the Internet. The day before the bill's adoption, Global Network Initiative (GNI), of which Human Rights Watch is a founding member, expressed its concern over this regressive legislative initiative. In order to come into force, the bill requires the endorsement of the parliament's upper chamber and the approval of Russia's president.
Statement by the Global Network Initiative
The Global Network Initiative (GNI) is concerned that a legislative proposal under active consideration by the Russian Duma will curb freedom of expression online. The draft bill, Law 89417-6, which is due to have its second reading in the State Duma on July 11, would create a list of prohibited websites, sites containing content harmful to children or with extremist content, that would be enforced through measures including Domain Name System (DNS) and Internet Protocol (IP) address blocking.
Although GNI shares the goal of protecting children online, we are concerned that the proscribed measures could have serious ramifications on free expression and block access to information. Among the worrisome measures, website owners would be required to remove content within 24 hours or face IP blocking. Given the concerns regarding this legislation raised by the Presidential Council on Human Rights, GNI supports greater public review and consideration of this proposal before it is enacted.
The interconnected nature of the Internet means that a well-intended but narrow effort to address issues such as child protection and extremism prevention can have serious unintended consequences on the integrity of the Internet and the rights of its users. We urge a legislative process that includes diverse stakeholders with expertise on both technical and human rights considerations.