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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

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

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
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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

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

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.
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Amid Ongoing Bombings, More Protection Needed for Education

In areas of Eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Syria’s capital Damascus held by anti-government armed groups, schools have closed for fear that Syrian and Russian warplanes will bomb them. Instead, local residents have opened informal schools…
Children walk through the rubble of the Tamayuz (“Excellence”) kindergarten in the town of Hamouriyeh after it was hit by a Syrian-Russian airstrike on November 8, 2017. © 2017 Private
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.
News

Russia Should Amend its Anti-Extremism Legislation

A Russian YouTuber recently noted that internet users in Russia today, “have one foot in jail.” Less succinctly but with greater gravitas, the UN Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination last week said that Russia needs…
A photo illustration interweaving the Russian flag with the Facebook and Twitter logos taken in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, May 22, 2015. Russia's media watchdog has warned that Google, Twitter and Facebook could be blocked if they do not comply with
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Death of Detained Activist Puts Spotlight on Syria’s Ghastly Prison System

Yesterday Noura Safadi said that she had received confirmation that the Syrian authorities executed her husband, Bassel (Safadi) Khartabil, two years ago. Noura had been looking for Bassel since he disappeared from a Syrian prison in…
Bassel Khartabil
News

Recent Attacks on Saraqeb Caught on Video

Videos and photographs taken last weekend in the city of Saraqeb, in northwestern Syria, show the unmistakably bright trails produced by incendiary weapons. The ZAB incendiary submunitions used in the attacks are delivered by RBK-500 bombs and contain…
Screenshot of a video taken in April 2017 in Saraqeb, northwestern Syria, showing the bright trails produced by incendiary weapons.
News

Despite Promises, Syrian Officials Withhold Permits

Convoys filled with lifesaving aid stand idle on the Syria-Turkish border. The Syrian government has failed to issue permits to the United Nations to access and distribute aid to opposition-held Aleppo. The UN humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland also blamed…
Commercial Turkish trucks wait to cross to Syria near the Cilvegozu border gate, located opposite the Syrian commercial crossing point Bab al-Hawa in Reyhanli, Hatay province, Turkey, September 16, 2016.
News

Video Footage Shows Incendiary Weapons Mounted on Russian Attack Aircraft

Several major media outlets are reporting that Russia’s state-run television has broadcasted footage appearing to show Russian aircraft at its airbase in Syria equipped with “cluster bombs.” The clip was deleted from YouTube after analysts published the…
Footage showing what Human Rights Watch arms experts have identified as RBK-500 ZAB-2.5SM incendiary bombs mounted on a Russian attack aircraft at a Russian air base in Syria, June 18, 2016.
News
In today’s Russia, denying God’s existence can carry big risks. Just ask Viktor Krasnov, currently on trial in Stavropol for “offending religious feelings of believers,” and facing a possible year in prison. Krasnov is an avid…
A man walks under an umbrella during a snowfall, with St. Basil's Cathedral seen in the background, in Red Square in central Moscow March 31, 2014.