Tech

Russians take to streets to protest internet 'iron curtain'

Russians take to streets to protest internet 'iron curtain'

Protesters said the move was purely censorship created to stifle dissent.

A protester holds a placard reading "Putin lies" during an opposition rally in central Moscow, on March 10, 2019, to demand internet freedom in Russian Federation.

Protesters chanted "hands off the internet" and "no to isolation, stop breaking the Russian Internet" in what Reuters described as the biggest protesters in the Russian capital in years. More than 14,000 people participated, according to independent monitor White Counter.

Advocates say the bill is meant to address concerns that Russian Federation could be cut off if the United States applies a new cybersecurity doctrine in an offensive maneuver.

A Twitter account which belonged to one of the activists posted that the Moscow police detained 15 people. Interfax news agency put the number at 6,500.

One protester told Reuters news agency: "If we do nothing it will get worse", adding, "The authorities will keep following their own way and the point of no return will be passed". Police have not announced any detentions.

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Dozens of protesters also rallied in the Far Eastern city of Khabarovsk, while activists in St. Peterburg held so-called single pickets in order to comply with a Russian law against mass demonstrations that aren't authorized by authorities.

Proponents say it aims to make what they call the Russian segment of the Internet more independent, and argue that the legislation is needed to guard Russia against potential cyberattacks.

On Thursday, its parliament passed two bills outlawing "disrespect" of authorities and the spreading of what the government deems to be "fake news".

The legislation, known as the Digital Economy National Program, will be up for a second vote this month, after which it'll go to the upper house of the parliament and ultimately President Vladimir Putin for signing.

Russia has introduced tougher internet laws in recent years, requiring search engines to delete some search results, messaging services to share encryption keys with security services and social networks to store Russian users' personal data on servers within the country.

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