Growing Internet censorship reported in Russia

7 Feb 2018

The Moscow Times reports that online freedom in Russia declined in 2017. International human rights group Agora's recent report (news story in Russian) recorded over 115 000 cases of Internet censorship. It notes that 110 000 of these cases involved websites, with an average of 244 web pages being blocked each day during 2017. 6 Signs There’s No Such Thing as Internet Freedom in Russia specifies six ways censorship trends can be seen. For example, in spite of strong growth in the Russian online population, Internet freedom is declining. In 2017 Freedom House ranked Russia 6.6 out of 7 (with 7 being the least free) in Internet Freedom. In a different emphasis on the same report, VOA News highlights that 'Russia sentenced 43 people to jail over online posts last year' underlining the report's warning that 'the country is slowly criminalizing internet use as the security service tightens its grip.'

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Internet access is growing rapidly, yet large groups of people remain unconnected to the Internet. As of 2015, about 43% of people had access to the Internet (in developing countries only 34%). Access to ICTs is part of the Sustainable Development Agenda, which commits to ‘significantly increase access to ICTs and strive to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet in least developed countries by 2020’ (Goal 9.c).

The human rights basket includes online aspects of freedom of expression, privacy and data protection, rights of people with disabilities and women’s rights online. Yet, other human rights come into place in the realm of digital policy, such as children’s rights, and rights afforded to journalists and the press.

The same rights that people have offline must also be protected online is the underlying principle for human rights on the Internet, and has been firmly established by the UN General Assembly and UN Human Rights Council resolutions.


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