Russia briefly banned online handmade crafts and unique goods marketplace Etsy for knockoff designer products sold by some of its vendors, the Kommersant business daily reported Thursday.
State internet watchdog Roskomnadzor reportedly blocked the website in order to enforce a 2019 court order in Tambov some 500 kilometers south of Moscow against an Etsy vendor selling fake clothing and accessories from brands like Gucci.
Kommersant reported that Roskomnadzor added Etsy to its official register of banned sites on Dec. 1, requiring internet providers to block access to the entire site in Russia.
But access to the website was restored by Friday afternoon after Etsy removed the knockoff page, which also sold imitations of brands like Christian Dior and Chanel.
Roskomnadzor had taken the drastic step because Etsy’s secure protocol kept it from blocking the vendors’ specific pages, Kommersant said.
Etsy and the knockoff vendor have three months to appeal the ban in court, according to Kommersant.
Experts said the Etsy ban sets a dangerous precedent for Russia’s e-commerce industry.
“Websites use modern encryption methods to protect buyers’ personal data and money,” Artem Sokolov, CEO of the Association of Internet Commerce Companies (AKIT), was quoted as saying.
Sokolov lamented the risk of entire websites being blocked “due to the lack of the technical ability to block one page in a disputable situation.”
If Russian authorities also expand the practice of extrajudicially blocking “certain product categories,” he added, “e-commerce in our country will shut down.”