The lower house of the Russian parliament, the State Duma, will hold on Friday initial hearings on a bill proposing a unified digital blacklist of all websites containing pornography, drug ads and promoting suicide or extremist ideas.
The controversial bill, supported by all four party factions in the State Duma, has been widely criticized by civil rights activists and internet providers as an attempt to introduce censorship of the Russian segment of the internet (RuNet).
The idea of the blacklist originated last year from Russia’s League of Internet Security after the internet watchdog said it had broken up an international ring of 130 alleged pedophiles circulating material via the internet.
According to the draft document, submitted to the State Duma on June 7, the unified roster of banned websites will be run by a federal agency to be appointed by the government.
The agency will have the right to add items to the blacklist, as will the courts, which already have the authority to ban extremist and other types of content that violates Russian legislation.
The supporters of the blacklist believe it would curb the spread of on-line pornography and propaganda of extremism.
However, the opponents of the idea insist that the current version of the bill cannot be an effective tool for rooting out the illegal content and stopping its spread on the internet as it will not prevent “dirty” users from migrating to other domains and IP-addresses.
Russia’s presidential Human Rights Council (HRC) blasted the draft legislation on Thursday saying the proposed measures would only put an additional financial burden on internet providers and “negatively affect RuNet’s speed, stability and security.”
The council proposed to withdraw the bill and put it out for public discussion with participation of experts on the issue.