Russia Begins Censoring Twitter

March 16, 2013 More

Source: Tjournal.ruRussia’s federal telecommunications supervisor has officially begun to censor Twitter, according to a report out on Friday by Izvestia.

So far, Twitter has agreed to block access to four tweets from one account that Roskomnadzor complained was guilty of “advertising narcotics or propagandizing suicide.”

Roskomnadzor has been in contact with Twitter since last November in an attempt to implement a newly-passed Russian law: “On the defense of children from information harmful to their health or development.” Since Twitter has no Russian branch, the two parties had to negotiate in a lengthy back-and-forth writing process – lengthy especially because the American company could not understand what the Russian blacklist was and why it was necessary.

“We began holding negotiations as soon as we got wind of the first links to tweets that were banned from distribution in Russia,” said a Roskomnadzor representative. “The administrators at Twitter did not have any experience in cooperating with international governmental agencies to delete or block access to unlawful content. This complicated our negotiations.”

The parties only came to an agreement in March. Twitter will identify Russian users by IP address and block their access to blacklisted tweets or accounts.

“We understand the importance of major online social tools and are carrying out a prudent policy to protect law-abiding users from being put onto the blacklist,” said Roskomnadzor.

The Russian Pirate Party spoke out strongly against the decision. “There should be no limits on the distribution of information,” said party member Pavel Rassudov. “If someone is advertising narcotics, then the Federal Narcotics Control Service should check if the person is a dealer and take whatever measures are necessary from there. There’s no need to block any accounts or tweets. These people are focusing on reporting, not solving any problems.”

About 600 websites so far have been deemed by Roskomnadzor to be “harmful” to children, including the Russian-language media wiki Lurkmore, the digital library Librusek, and – Russia’s largest torrent tracker.