Worrying restrictions on Internet access in Russia

Tuesday, August 3, 2010 | 12:35 PM

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Online freedom of expression is a global issue and threats to it come from all over the world. Just last week, we faced a challenge from far-off Siberia. A district court in a city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur in the Russian Far East, ordered Internet access provider Rosnet to block access to all content on YouTube.com because one user had uploaded a video deemed problematic on grounds of ultra-nationalism.

As a result, some Russian Internet users will no longer have access to the myriad of legitimate online content and video available on services such as YouTube, including, ironically, the Russian President’s own YouTube Channel. YouTube users upload more than 24 hours of video every minute.

Encouragingly, many influential Russian commentators have called for the ban to be lifted. The well-known Russian blogger Anton Nossik denounced “the verdict’s ignorance,” saying it “is typical to the whole Russian legal proceedings of Internet-related cases.”

The court order draws attention to an important broader issue. No provisions in the Russian legal system protect neutral online hosting platforms from being held directly liable for the content uploaded by third parties. In the European Union countries, a strong e-commerce directive offers such “intermediary liability protection.” The U.S. offers similar legal protection to hosting platforms.

YouTube is a responsible online platform. We have global community guidelines to what is and isn’t acceptable. On the site YouTube, our millions of users flag content they deem to be potentially breaching these terms. Flagged videos are reviewed 24x7. If deemed to violate the guidelines, videos are removed from the site.

We look forward to working with the Russian authorities, the legal community and fellow web services to establish a similar environment in Russia. A single potentially inappropriate video should not lead to the blocking of a legitimate online service offering millions of legitimate, useful, commercial and entertaining videos.

Posted by Marina Zhunich, Russia Policy Manager


heartlandliberal said...

There is some considerable irony here, considering that for a decade service providers in Russia have been one of the primary sources of safe hosting for everything from stolen credit card sales sold wholesale, to crews writing and running botnets that own machines in the millions.

Dax said...

I agree with this article.. well should be at least to some who are responsible adults. harmful contents whould still be inaccessible to children. I found this link which provides more information on the topic: Blocking Internet Access