The controversial law that could stifle social media and bloggers in Russia has officially come into effect, as of August 1, with opponents calling it “draconian”.
From here on, any bloggers that have more than 3,000 daily readers must register with Roskomnadzor, the Russian media regulator. Furthermore, the law will force Internet companies to share user information with authorities.
The law has been in gestation for some time and under much scrutiny, passing the upper house first back in April and signed by Vladimir Putin in May.
The crux of the law is ensure that bloggers cannot remain anonymous if they have a substantial audience and will allow government bodies to monitor anyone spreading anti-government sentiments. The law is also an accompaniment to another ruling in Russia, which will demand that all Russian Internet user data be stored within the country, regardless of where the site in question is based.
Hugh Williamson of Human Rights Watch described the law as “another milestone in Russia’s relentless crackdown on free expression.”
“The internet is the last island of free expression in Russia and these draconian regulations are clearly aimed at putting it under government control”
The “draconian” law is the latest in a string of efforts from the Duma that allows it control over Internet users.
In May, it enacted another law that allowed it block any website with little or no explanation. Meanwhile Russia has been wrangling with Twitter to restrict access to certain accounts and earlier this week saw the blocking one alleged hacker profile.
This all marks a dramatic shift in policy compared to several years ago when the Internet in Russia was left largely unregulated.