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Working Group Supports Closing Entire Websites

A girl browsing the Internet at a cafe Sunday. The state is considering blacklisting entire domains, not just pages. Vladimir Filonov

The working group responsible for defining the rules to accompany the law restricting Internet content that goes into effect next month decided last week to continue pressing for blocking whole websites rather than individual Web pages.

Officials are also advocating giving broader jurisdiction under the law to government agencies and making the government’s blacklist of websites partly classified.

The news comes as a poll released Friday by VTsIOM showed that 40 percent of the population is now using the Internet daily, up one third over the same period last year.

A government working group preparing rules on how to restrict content deemed harmful to minors under the new Internet law supports a controversial proposal to totally block those websites that have pages in violation of the law, by blacklisting domain names and IP addresses within the site, Vedomosti, which obtained a draft copy of the rules, reported Friday.

During the law’s readings in the State Duma this summer, a number of companies, such as Internet giant Yandex and website-hosting company Agava.ru, protested that blacklisting domain names and IP addresses — in essence, entire websites — would obstruct perfectly legal Web content.

Thursday’s working group consisted of representatives of the Federation Council, the Communications and Press Ministry and its Federal Mass Media Inspection Service, known as Roskomnadzor, as well as representatives of Internet companies and Internet service providers, Vedomosti said.

Websites, website-hosting companies and even Internet service providers will be required under the new Internet legislation to remove or block Web pages once the government adds the illicit content to its registry.

The law, passed by the State Duma and signed by President Vladimir Putin in July, bans Internet material displaying child pornography, soliciting children for porn, encouraging drug use or promoting suicide. It also contains a less specific ban on distribution of content that is illegal under Russian law.

The draft rules say the decision to add Web content to the registry can fall either to a court or to officials in the Interior Ministry, the Federal Mass Media Inspection Service, the Federal Drug Control Service and the Federal Consumer Protection Service, the country’s public health watchdog.

Communications and Press Minister Nikolai Nikiforov told Kommersant that the Federal Mass Media Inspection Service will administer the registry, the newspaper reported last week.

According to VTsIOM, the reported increase in Internet use is the biggest jump since the 2006-08 period, when the number of daily Web users rose from 5 percent of the population to 11 percent.

In the latest poll, conducted among 1,600 people nationwide Sept. 22 and Sept. 23, 13 percent said they access the Web several times a week, and 5 percent said several times a month. Forty percent said they don’t use the Internet at all. No margin of error was given for the poll.

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