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1832 Facts of Restrictions of Freedom of the Internet in 2013 Was Fixed by Agora

1832 Facts of Restrictions of Freedom of the Internet in 2013 Was Fixed by Agora
Аrkady Ivanenkov 06.02.2014

Murder, 23 cases of violence, 226 criminal prosecutions of users of network, 514 cases of administrative pressure and 236 restrictions of access to Internet resources (apart from more than 3300 blocking within Russia’s Internet Blacklist) were registered by legal analysts of Inter-regional Association of Human Rights Organizations "Agora" in 2013. For 12 months they recorded 63 cyber attacks, 37 civil suits in relation to bloggers and 75 proposals of politicians on the Internet regulation. For comparison in 2012 they registered 103 criminal prosecutions, 208 facts of administrative pressure, 609 cases of restriction of access, 47 cyber attacks, 26 claims and 49 offers about Network regulation. The total number of revealed violations in comparison with last year grew more than by 50% (1197 - in 2012, 1832 - in 2013). Essential growth was shown by almost all types of restrictions of freedom of the Internet.

- We are compelled to note that situation with freedom of the Internet in Russia considerably worsened last year, - authors of the report note. – The matter is not only and not so much in increase in absolute measures of a number of violations. The general trend - censorship strengthening, granting of new powers for control of information space to intelligence services, expansion of bases for bringing to responsibility of users and owners of sites, toughening of sanctions for communications providers and providers of services for non-execution of orders of the officials – got evidently specified. The Russian authorities obviously relied on control of content, however they control users as well.

Regions

Most of all violations (180) in 2013 are recorded in Moscow (in 2012 - 98). Dagestan (15 facts of violence in 2013, 2 cases in 2012), Altai Republic (13-4), Kostroma (31-0), the Moscow region (10-3), St. Petersburg (48-14) considerably worsened their indicators, because of physical abuse the Volgograd, Vologda, Rostov and Ulyanovsk regions join them.

Situation in Khakassia (1 fact in 2013, 11 - in 2012), in the Stavropol (1-227) and Khabarovsk (1-16) territories, the Belgorod (3-34), Lipetsk (1-7), Nizhny Novgorod (3-52), Novgorod (0-17), Samara (3-32), Smolensk (0-8), Tyumen (1-112) and Chelyabinsk (2-28) regions got considerably improved.

As a rule change of a situation is connected with increase or reduction of number of blocked sites as, for example, it happened in the Stavropol Territory or the Nizhny Novgorod Region. Rating of the region is strongly influenced by the fact of application of violence in it.

Violence

Number of attacks on journalists of network editions and Internet activists increased sharply in 2013. If in 2012 only 3 persons suffered, in 2013 human rights activists recorded 24 facts of violent acts or threats which can be regarded as threat of violence. In 23 cases journalists suffered. In 6 cases police officers were attackers.

Criminal prosecution

The number of facts of criminal prosecution for Internet activity and publications in social networks grew more than twice (from 103 to 226). Majority of them consists of cases on extremist articles of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, however articles about insult of authorities and slander started being applied more actively.

Social network "VKontakte" continues to be the leader by number of users brought to responsibility. For last year not less than 30 criminal cases (in 2012 — 50) were brought upon publications in this network. Users of Odnoklassniki received claims of investigators not less than 4 times (in 2012 - 3), of Facebook - not less than 3 (in 2012 - never), of Moymir - 1 time (in 2012 - 2). Recording of such facts becomes complicated as law enforcement agencies, reporting about lodging of charges, not always specify the name of social network.

Administrative Pressure

514 cases of bringing of users, administrators of sites and providers to administrative responsibility, issuance of warning and cautions by prosecutor's office and territorial divisions of Roskomnadzor are recorded for 2013. In 2012 there were 208 such facts. So considerable changes are connected with increased activity of Roskomnadzor on application of "the law about blacklists of sites", authors of the report state.

Restriction of access and censorship

Noticeable redistribution of the registered episodes in these categories took place during 2013. Formally there were less cases of restriction of access - 236 against 609 in 2012. Number of facts of censorship on the contrary increased five times - from 124 to 624.

Authors of the report explain it with two circumstances: "Firstly, in connection with development of new order of blocking of access to forbidden information... authorities got reoriented from direct requirements to communications providers and registrars of domain names to block access to sites and to stop delegation of domain names for inclusion of network addresses into Russia’s Internet Blacklist of those address-recources which have information forbidden to distribution in the Russian Federation. Secondly, courts started to make more decisions about recognition of information forbidden, for example, as being extremist or offending feeling of the believers".

Cyber-attacks

Grows of a number of cyber attacks in 2013 to 63 (in 2012 - 47) seems to be natural to the authors of the report as the Russian authorities didn't undertake any efforts for investigation of hacker attacks to sites and accounts of independent mass media, non-governmental organizations and activists of previous years.

Not only independent Russian mass media were exposed to attacks of botnets in 2013. Thus, for example, on February, 17 the site of the state TV channel Russia Today underwent the most powerful attack for all the time of its existence. They managed to restore site work only 6 hours later.

Offers of the Internet regulation

Explosive growth of interest to regulation of the Internet proceeded in 2013 being started in 2012 (in 2011 there were only 5 such offers). For last year Agora noted 75 various offers on standard regulation of relations on the Internet. In 2012 there were 49 of them. All of them are somehow connected either with extension of the list of bases for restriction of access to information, or with introduction or toughening of responsibility for actions made on the Internet, or with improvement of mechanisms of control of information distribution and activity of users.

- Russia kept the status of one of the main promoters of conservative policy in the sphere of regulation of the Internet on the international scene, thus having chosen rather soft variant of control - filtration and blocking of content is given obvious preference in comparison with prosecution of certain users, - is noted in the report of Agora. - During 2013 the Russian authorities laid normative and law-enforcement foundation for delay of growth and development of Runet. It will touch not only users, but also Internet and business. We already observe gradual migration of the most cautious in the foreign jurisdictions.

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