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Social Media Platforms Should Not Yield to Pressure

The final days of 2021 were marked by a particularly vicious escalation of Russia’s crackdown on independent reporting and activism. Amid a flurry of new “foreign agent” designations, arrests of political activists, and appalling court rulings…
An iPhone screen shows the Telegram account of OVD-Info
News

Apple and Google Should Account for Limiting Access to Election Information

Apple and Google capitulated to Russian authorities last week when they removed access to the Navalny Smart Voting app on the eve of the weekend’s parliamentary election. The move helped undermine Russian voters’ ability to access information about…
Police officer wearing face mask stands on duty at the polling station on July 1, 2020 in St. Petersburg, Russia.
News

Beijing Blocks Clubhouse App to Stop ‘Political’ Conversations

On Monday night, Clubhouse, the red-hot app where people can create chatrooms that disappear after use, became inaccessible in China, presumably blocked by the authorities. Many had expected this to happen, but some were still surprised by how fast…
Logos of social media platforms including Clubhouse, center, are seen on an iPhone 12.
News

Robust Data Security Safeguards Should Be Put in Place

Last week, Russian media reported a major personal data leak of Covid-19 patients admitted to Moscow hospitals, as well as Muscovites who had been ordered to self-quarantine, or fined over violating the self-quarantine regulations. According to the…
A woman wearing a face mask looks at her smartphone as she walks through a street in Moscow, Russia, November 23, 2020. 
News

Parliament Should Reject Bill, Ensure Access to Information Online

On November 19, a draft law was submitted to Russia’s parliament that would give authorities power to block websites that have censored Russian state media content. The bill claims these websites violate Russians’ right of access to information.…
A man checks his smartphone while waiting to board a subway in Moscow, Russia, December 23, 2019. 
News

Activists File an Application to European Court of Human Rights

Activist Alyona Popova and politician Vladimir Milov have lodged a complaint over Russia’s use of  facial recognition technology during protests to the European Court of Human Rights. Their lawyer, Kirill Koroteyev, said this would be the…
Two surveillance camera are seen in a street in Moscow, Russia
News
Andrei Soldatov, interviewed by Human Rights Watch in April, is an investigative journalist, nonfiction writer and a top expert on Russia’s security services. His book “The Red Web,” co-authored with Irina Borogan, tells the story of the Russian internet…
Andrei Soldatov in Moscow
News

Entire Country’s Personal Data to Be Stored in One Place

Update: On June 8, President Putin signed the bill into law. The law will enter into force incrementally, starting January 1, 2022. A new law for creating a “uniform federal database” in Russia infringes on the right to privacy and weakens…
A Russian state flag waves on top of a hammer and sickle at the State Duma, lower parliament chamber, headquarters in Moscow, Russia
News

COVID-19 Provides Excuse to Extend; New Monitoring Technology

Moscow’s officials are forging ahead with installing one of the world’s biggest surveillance camera systems equipped with facial recognition technology, despite protests from activists. The system is ostensibly to help in the fight against…
Two surveillance camera are seen in a street in Moscow, Russia
News

But Little Action Holding Beijing Accountable

“His wife wore veils.” “He has one more child than allowed by the family planning policy.” “He prayed after each meal.” These are some of the reasons people in Karakax County in Xinjiang, northwestern China, are being detained in “political…
Government social media post in April 2017 shows detainees in a political education camp in Lop County, Hotan Prefecture, Xinjiang.
News

Unprecedented View into Mass Surveillance of Xinjiang’s Muslims

Tell me about the IJOP and when we first learned about it? The IJOP is a system of systems. It gathers information from, but not limited to, gas stations, checkpoints on the street, and access-controlled areas such as communities and schools. It pulls…
Images of the IJOP surveillance phone app used in Xinjiang, China.
News

Crackdown on Social Media Broadens

Update: On April 2 a Yeysk court fined Alexander Korovainy 5,000 rubles ($77) for his Facebook post under Article 20.33 for distributing materials from an “undesirable” organization. Last month, Alexander Korovainy shared an image on his…
201903europe_russia_korovainy
News

Concerns Over Government’s Increased Control of Online Speech

An acquaintance living in the United States asked me if it was true that Russia is about to “cut off its Internet” from the rest of the world. He sounded panicked - his family still lives in Russia. He was concerned about recent reports…
The Google app logo is seen on a smartphone in this picture illustration taken September 15, 2017.
News

Congress Should Press Sundar Pichai Over Project Dragonfly

Google CEO Sundar Pichai will be in the hot seat tomorrow when he testifies before the United States House Judiciary Committee following an outcry over its plans to re-enter the Chinese search market. A coalition of more than…
News

Authorities Digitally Erase Even Past Critical Speech

Since early November, the Chinese government has been targeting Twitter users in China as part of a nationwide crackdown on social media – even though Twitter is blocked in the country. Authorities have detained or summoned dozens or…
201811freespeech_internet_twitter
News

Opposition Politician Alexei Navalny and Campaigners Sentenced

This afternoon, a court in Moscow sentenced the press secretary of Russia’s leading opposition politician, Alexei Navalny, to 25 days in jail for “repeated violation” of regulations on public rallies, an administrative offense. …
Policemen detain opposition supporters during a protest ahead of President Vladimir Putin's inauguration ceremony, Moscow, Russia May 5, 2018.
News

The Russian Government Versus Telegram Messaging Service

Last weekend, I attempted to buy new sneakers online for my 5-year-old, but Amazon’s website was down. My husband wanted to look up traffic updates on Google, but Google Search was down. I tried to check in online for my Monday morning flight, but the…
Tanya Lokshina’s own paper plane for Internet freedom. Moscow, April 22, 2018.
News

Moscow Court Rules to Block Access to Telegram Messenger in Russia

This morning, Moscow’s Tagansky District Court issued a ruling to block access to Telegram, a popular messaging service with close to ten million users in Russia, and close to 200 million worldwide, for failure to hand encryption keys…
A man poses with a smartphone in front of a screen showing the Telegram logos in this picture illustration taken in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina November 18, 2015.
News

Authorities Threaten to Block Twitter, YouTube Over Open Russia Accounts

This week, Russia’s state media watchdog, Roskomnadzor, issued a warning to Twitter, giving it 24 hours to remove allegedly unlawful content – the Twitter account of opposition group Open Russia, led by Russian former oil tycoon and…
A photo illustration interweaving the Russian flag with the Facebook and Twitter logos taken in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, May 22, 2015.
News

Facebook Post About Sexual Health for LGBT People Triggered Investigation and Trial

Update - October 27, 2017 On October 18, 2017, Evdokiya Romanova was found guilty of spreading "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships among minors using the Internet" and fined 50,000 roubles (about US$865).…
Interior Ministry officers guard the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community rally "VIII St.Petersburg Pride" in St. Petersburg, Russia August 12, 2017.
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