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Putin Approves New Laws To End Online Anonymity, Curtail Free Speech, Driving Away Innovation & Investors Reader 08/10/2023 (Thu) 17:29 Id: 882e01 [Preview] No. 21332
Putin Approves New Laws To End Online Anonymity, Curtail Free Speech, Driving Away Innovation & Investors

Russian President Vladimir Putin has enacted a series of legal amendments that could spell the end of online anonymity, curtail free speech and stifle innovation.

The amendments, officially titled Federal Law No. 406-FZ, were approved by Putin on July 31 and take effect immediately, with some provisions slated to come into force before Christmas 2023.

The law requires individuals to provide verifiable proof of identification before gaining access to Russian online platforms. As part of this crackdown on online anonymity, foreign email systems are set to be banned with stringent measures slated to take effect by the end of this year.

The use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) remains permissible, but any content that promotes their use for evasion purposes is now considered a criminal act.

Furthermore, the internet hosting services of Russia require state registration and adherence to strict guidelines. The Russian government seeks to "enhance its customer service and security" (aka revealing identities to spy on them in real time) – thus, hosting companies are now mandated to identify potential customers using approved procedures and are held accountable for the content on their platforms. This will no doubt destroy the faith in online communication, rendering many sites to completely shut down and drive many Russians into living much of their lives completely offline.

By September 2024, only companies listed on the state-managed register will be eligible for use by public entities, while "computing power" and "information systems" will be restricted (wtf?).

The new legislation, passed under Federal Law No. 406-FZ, is set to have far-reaching implications for both internet users and businesses. It could stifle creativity and potentially push entrepreneurs to leave the country.

The banning of foreign email systems would limit user access to only state-approved email services. This action limits choices and access to global communication platforms.

While VPN providers are not outright outlawed, posting information online that advises users on circumventing the state-approved identification mechanisms using tools like VPNs or Tor will be deemed a criminal offense. This presents a chilling effect on discussions around privacy and tools to safeguard it.

The legislation also brings hosting companies under strict government scrutiny. This threatens the independence of hosting services and exposes them to potential liability for the content posted by users on their platforms. Many platforms are likely to close access to Russian citizens, and many Russian platforms are likely to close altogether.

The introduction of these amendments has raised alarm bells about the future of the Russian internet landscape. Critics argue that these measures could push internet entrepreneurs to either fall in line with the government's agenda, go offline or leave the country altogether. The stifling of free speech and the invasive surveillance of online activities threaten to drive away innovators and investors.


Reader 08/10/2023 (Thu) 19:30 Id: 686039 [Preview] No.21333 del

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