Russia’s terrifying “blogger law”, an amendment to the country’s administrative code, went into effect last week, forcing stringent guidelines on to bloggers.
Under this new law bloggers will have to register with the Russian government, allowing the government to restrict blogs it doesn’t approve of. Popular bloggers with more than 3,000 unique visitors daily will be considered journalists and will be subject to the same rules as other state-registered media outlets.
This means that bloggers will be required to reveal their identity to state authorities, compromising on their anonymity, a prized possession for many bloggers, who use the web to condemn the government.
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Under the amendment, the government will be able to ask bloggers to verify information before reporting it and prevent bloggers from publishing banned content, including slander, hate speech, and profanities.
Already, a number of blogging platforms have come out against the law. Blogging giant LiveJournal has altered the number of site visitors for each of it’s user pages so that it never goes above 2,500. Other blogs have just stopped publishing site statistics.
The new law applies to any blogger writing in Russian for a Russian audience irrespective of their location. A Russian blogger could be writing and posting content from a condo in Australia and would technically still have to register with the Russian government. The government will ban access to noncompliant sites and issue fines that can be anywhere between $300 to roughly $900. Larger media outlets will have to pay heavier fines which can go as high as $14,285.
So much for free speech and anonymity on the web. What do you think of this move by the Russian government?