Russia has implemented a new "blogger law" that further heightens the government's control on the Internet. According to a Friday report on the Voice of America, Russian bloggers who have daily readership of 3,000 or more will now be forced to register their website with the Kremlin’s censorship organization, Roskomnadzor. They must publish extensive personal contact information and assume responsibility not only for their own remarks but the comments of their readers.
The Russian government will be imposing hefty fines on those who are accused of using obscenities or providing “misinformation.” The real targets of this new Internet crackdown are the opposition bloggers. The new law gives the government the right to shut down websites with no explanation, and that is just what they have done in several cases.
The Washington Post reports that blogger Oleg Kozyrev predicts that his Russian peers will use more veiled, figurative language in their illegal, anti-governmental writing. The traditional Russian fable was even used in getting across forbidden viewpoints during the Cold War and probably will be utilized again. Kozyrev does not plan to register his website.
These new restrictions on Internet communication signal a return to the previous heavy-handed governmental control exercised by the Kremlin before the breakup of the Soviet Union. The actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Ukraine have also hearkened back to a time when the Soviet Union was a direct threat for world domination and the spread of Communism during the Cold War. It is this tense situation that forms the backdrop for the recent stranglehold on the opposition media and even Internet bloggers.
Oppressive governments around the world are trying to gain the upper hand on social media knowing that it is the perfect tool for opposition leaders and even revolutionaries. China has attempted to thwart the advance of social media in their country by turning it off “at the switch” and limiting the citizenry’s actual access to opposition viewpoints. Like the printing presses of old, modern-day bloggers serve as watchmen of freedom.