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article imageRussia bans then unbans Reddit over drug posts

By Tom Pritchard     Aug 15, 2015 in Internet
The Kremlin’s Internet watchdog blocked access to Reddit this week before quickly reversing its decision over concerns regarding threads that discuss the growth of marijuana.
The Roskomnadzor is Russia’s state service for the supervision of the media, technology and the Internet. The organization reached out to Reddit to take down the thread. After it received no response, it sent out public appeal on Russia’s top social media site VK.com.
The Kremlin does not approve of the thread because it provides guidance on growing substances that are illegal in Russia. The Kremlin also does not approve of Reddit ignoring its public and private requests.
Reddit has undergone some changes recently regarding its content. Recently departed CEO Ellen Pao started initiatives to prevent sexual harassment on the site. The site has also recently changed its policy in favor of the removal of illegal content.
However, discussing illegal activities is not illegal. Reddit company policy would be to let the cannabis thread remain online.
Russia’s threat to block Reddit is not an empty one. Roskomnadzor has previously blocked sites like Wikipedia on similar charges. The organization also blocks any content that is critical of the Kremlin.
Internet censorship in the country is heavy. Much of the censorship remains dedicated to blocking content that advocates drugs, suicide or child pornography. While the surface of the law may appear noble, the legislation allows Russia to control a huge amount of news and information on the Internet.
In 2014, Russia joined the Reports without Borders list of the Enemies of the Internet.
Russia often uses its legislation as grounds for Internet surveillance. Documented episodes of stalking and suppression have been reported by bloggers, journalists and activists who speak ill of Putin or his government.
Russia has been on Reports without Borders watch list for a few years. Now, it joins countries like Iran, North Korea, Syria, China and the United States as one of the top governments promoting over-reaching Internet surveillance.
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