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More Than 60% of Russians Back Online Censorship, Poll Says

Almost two-thirds of Russians believe that Internet censorship is a necessary measure to restrict access to harmful online content, a poll released Wednesday said.

Sixty-three percent of respondents backed Internet censorship in the independent Levada Center poll, while only 19 percent said the dangers of the Web are overrated, Interfax reported. A further 17 percent were undecided one way or another.

The poll's findings come ahead of new legislation set to come into effect in November that will require websites, website-hosting companies and Internet service providers to remove or block content that the government adds to a blacklist of illicit online material.

In particular, the legislation aims to ban 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.

Commenting on the new restrictions Tuesday, Alexei Mitrofanov, head of the State Duma's Information Policy Committee, told Interfax that "we won't set up a firewall, but we won't allow the sort of free-for-all on offer when the Internet was first created either."

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