#27 - JRL 2009-182 - JRL Home

Russian speaker calls for 'very responsible, very selective' Internet censorship

Moscow, 30 September: The speaker of the Federation Council, Sergey Mironov, has called for the setting up of a national consultative body which would involve leading Internet users and bloggers.

This consultative body could focus on the drawing up of a code of tolerant behaviour in the Internet, Mironov told the press.

"Virtual confrontation should be completely ruled out, and the code should not contain even the slightest hint on political censorship. It should facilitate the adoption by Runet of the state's and civil society's fundamental social functions," the speaker said.

He said that the majority of Russia's adult population use Runet. Powerful social networking sites, thematic and professional forums have emerged in this segment, providing all forms of personal, group and interactive communication.

"Runet is also rapidly commercializing and has turned into the second top, after television, advertising platform, taking Russia to one of the top places in the world in terms of the volume of downloaded film and video content," Mironov said, adding that Runet has turned into an accessory to mass television culture.

"This is just part of the problem; a worse thing is that Runet is stewing in its own juice and is not fulfilling civil and social functions that are common in other countries. Above all, Internet trade and Internet financial services are not properly developed in our country," said the speaker.

In his words, one could have hoped that the Internet would give a boost to the development of electronic government in the form of a network of resources of the executive, legislative, judicial and municipal branches of power with a common interface and common rules for the provision of government services.

"However, these hopes were in vain. Electronic government, about which the authorities have been talking since the start of the decade, has never come about," said Mironov.

"One could have hoped that the Internet would become a platform for the crystallization of civil society groups interested in a wide spectrum of creative transformations. However, one has to state with regret that so far this has not been happening," the speaker said, adding that portals and forums of civil, including human rights, organizations which defend the public's interests account for less than 1 per cent of national traffic.

At the same time, he said, in the Internet there is a large number of antisocial and criminal users, porno sites, sites of drug users, sadists, paedophiles, totalitarian sects, extremist Russian nationalist organizations.

"Now, following the expulsion from the cities of gambling establishments, gambling sites have also appeared. All these people should feel the hand of state Internet censorship, a very selective, very responsible and very careful one, and one that must be based on the verdicts of a single national consultative body, leading Internet users and leading bloggers," said Mironov.

He said that on Wednesday evening (30 September) he would hold a meeting with leading Russian bloggers to discuss with them problems of the Internet.

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