Agora, a reputable human rights groups based in Russia has published new reports on the online crackdown taking place in the country. The latest report finds that in the last twelve months, Russia has seen more than 115,000 online censorship cases with a vast majority (110,000) of these websites being successfully blocked by the government.
The estimations reveal that around 244 websites are blocked in a single day. Not only that, but alongside increased censorship of websites, there has also been an increase in violence and harsh punishments against online activism and online activity.
Violence on the Rise in Russia Due to Internet Control
More than 67 people received death threats or threats of assault in 2017 which is an increase of 49 percent from the previous year. Not only that, but state intimidation itself has also continued and increased with significantly more prosecutions compared to previous years.
In 2017 alone, there was 411 cases of prosecutions due to online activity compared to the 298 cases that took place in 2016. Cases that included imprisonment increased from 32 cases in 2016 to 43 cases in 2017, and shockingly, people were actually confined to psychiatric hospitals for using the internet.
Overall, though, internet freedom looks very dire in Russia and it has for a while. If anything, these terrifying trends are just continuing. Agora looks at long term trends, and in 10 years, there have been 214 record cases of violence or threats against internet users–but even still, considering that 49 percent have been in the last year means worse things to come. There have been murders and several attempts of murder of bloggers, journalists, and online activists on social media platforms that we all use but are increasingly getting blocked in Russia.
And of the 1449 criminal prosecutions in the past ten years, 98% have been sent to jail which clearly indicates the zero tolerance policy Russia continues to set against free speech on the internet. Additionally, more and more law proposals are being enacted to combat internet freedom with a staggering increase from 5 regulatory proposals in 2014 to a staggering 114 separate proposals in 2017.
Why is Russia Cracking down on Internet Freedom?
There could be multiple reasons why Russia has decided to keep censoring content within the country. More and more internet users are becoming active every day, which is making the internet a stronger place to host content and information. Russia wants to keep this in check, which means more regulations and more aggression every year towards the increasingly large population of users.
Russia is also learning from its neighbors and observing how other countries around the world operate on the internet. China is one of the most powerful and controlling governments in the world, and by now they’ve already eliminated a good portion of internet control by disabling mainstream VPN use, blocking almost every western websites, and controlling the ones that are left.
However, the question becomes, at what point does internet freedom and censorship begin to improve? No internet user really wants these things, and more and more internet users are coming online every day. It’s only a matter of time before people get what they want, it’s just a question of how dire, strict, and oppressive laws can get before that time comes.
Any way to Access Internet Uncensored in Russia?
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