August 11, 2014

More restrictions on blogging and other social media interactions!

It is a left-handed compliment to blogging that Russia has brought in a law to specifically restrain blogging. 

Bloggers with more than 3000 daily readers must now register with the media regulator, Roskomnadzor, and abide by its  regulations which till now were meant for the mainstream media. Internet companies will have to also allow Russian authorities access to users' information.

It is being felt that criticism of authorities on blogs, if it cannot be substantiated, could be taken as libel; if found unpalatable, authorities could ask Twitter and Facebook to remove posts.

Not only this, social networks (e.g. Facebook and Twitter) must preserve six months of data on social interactions. The information must be stored on servers based in Russian territory, so that government authorities can gain access.

The trend to restrain freedom of expression over blogs and other social media spaces in the name of extremism is only growing. Just to recall, China has been suppressing any dissent or political criticism with cracking down of social networks, instant messaging services and web-chats. Now Russia has given its media watchdog the power to shut down a website labelled as ‘extremist’.

In India, the government is reported to be considering an arrangement to track all social media interactions and take ‘appropriate’ corrective actions. There is a newspaper report this week that social media and electronic media monitoring organisations of the government, which are under the Information Ministry, are being shifted to the Home Ministry so as to make them more ‘effective’.