The Russian version of online encyclopedia Wikipedia closed its site on Tuesday in a one-day protest against what it said were plans by President Vladimir Putin to create his own version of the “Great Chinese Firewall” to block dissent on the Internet.
Supporters of amendments to Russia’s information law, which were proposed by the ruling United Russia party and will be discussed in parliament on Wednesday, say changes are needed to protect children from harmful sites.
But leaders of anti-Putin protests say the new law could shut down websites in Russia such as Facebook and Twitter without a court order and is meant to stop their opposition movement, which is organised via social networking sites.
“These amendments may become a basis for real censorship on the Internet – forming a list of forbidden sites and IP addresses,” Russian Wikipedia said in a statement.
“The following provisions and wording undertaken for discussion would lead to the creation of a Russian equivalent of the ‘Great Chinese Firewall’ … in which access to Wikipedia could soon be closed across the entire country.”
This is the same Russia that wants the ITU to be given regulatory authority over the Internet (see previous post and link to petition).