Published: Tue, March 12, 2019
Electronics | By Kelly Massey

After protests, Kremlin insists it's not moving to restrict internet

After protests, Kremlin insists it's not moving to restrict internet

Roskomsvoboda has campaigned against the increasing power of Russian internet watchdog Roskomnadzor, which according to the internet isolation bill will oversee a new centre to "ensure and control the routing of internet traffic".

Thousands of people took to the streets of Moscow and two other cities on Sunday to rally against tighter internet restrictions, in some of the biggest protests in the Russian capital in years.

However, campaigners revealed it was in efforts to raise censorship and stifle dissent.

The sanctioned rally on Sunday was organized in response to a bill in parliament that would route all internet traffic through servers in Russian Federation, making virtual private networks (VPNs) ineffective.

A data released by non-government organization White Counter, the protesters numbered to around 15,300 people.

In a statement acquired by Reuters, one of the protesters who wishes to remain anonymous said, "If we do nothing it will get worse".

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Opposition activists said on Twitter that police had detained 15 people at the Moscow rally, confiscating their banners and balloons. On the other hand, the Moscow police estimated the number to be around 6,500. Police have not announced any detentions. The law also proposed to build a national Domain Name System which will allow the country's internet to continue to work despite being cut off from the global infrastructure.

The bill has reportedly also been passed in the Russian parliament on the first reading out of three. The bill was passed by Russian parliament last month, and people are not happy.

According to Reuters, officials are seeking to increase Russian "sovereignty" over its Internet presence.

The protests in Moscow, the southern city of Voronezh, and Khabarovsk in the far east had all been officially authorised. A handful of activists in St. Petersburg took to the streets without the authorities' consent.

Russia's domestic Internet was largely unregulated in the early years of President Vladimir Putin's government, as the Kremlin focused on gaining control over the most influential media outlets, then in broadcasting and print.

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