Russia's New 'Bloggers Law' Plunges The Country Deeper Into Censorship, And Here's Who Putin's Taking Tips From
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is becoming increasingly despotic with each passing week, signed a new "bloggers law" Monday that could spell the end of any remaining semblance of Internet freedom in Russia. The "bloggers law," as its being called, deems every website with more than 3,000 visitors a day a news organization, and makes publishers liable for what they publish. Bloggers in Russia are now required to register with the government.
The law also requires the platforms they publish on, including social media companies, to maintain records in Russia of everything they've posted during the last six months, which makes things awkward for sites like Twitter and Facebook, which fall under that requirement. The passage of the law comes hot on the heels of Putin banning swear words. Seriously.
Russia's been censoring people in Russia for a while, often through intimidation. Mass media in Russia are already controlled by the government. But codifying Internet censorship in law is a scary escalation. At this point, Putin's so far down the censorship rabbit hole that we feel he's surely getting tips from someone. Here are a few of the top candidates for Putin's censorship czars – the leaders from whom he's taking notes as he plunges Russia deeper into a police state...
1. Saparmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan
This guy ruled Turkmenistan from 1985 until he died in 2006. During his rule he erected a giant golden statue of himself in the country's capital, Ashgabat, which rotated with the sun. Also renamed the months of the year after his family tree. His successor continued his policies. People in opposition to the regime can expect imprisonment or torture.
2. Xi Jinping of China
China is not exactly known for being a bastion of press freedom, and jokes aside, it might really be the model for Putin's escalating control of the Internet in Russia. China's long-running efforts to censor its citizens, continued by current President Xi Jinping, involve a system of extremely complex Internet control and monitoring collectively known as the Great Firewall.
3. Ali Khamenei of Iran
The ayatollah's policies of ensuring that online content doesn't violate "values of the resolution" constitutes a censorship stranglehold on the country's Internet users.
4. Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea
Eritrea is known as the worst place on earth to be a journalist, according to the World Press Freedom Index, and Isaias Afwerki has been ruling since 1993, and there's been a crackdown on press in the country since 2001. Eritreans flee the country in droves because of government oppression; mandated, never-ending military service; lack of food and water; and routine sexual abuse against women. The government frequently intercepts emails it considers somehow "suspect."
5. Truong Tan Sang of Vietnam
Vietnam's anti-blogger laws are surprisingly extensive. Freedom of the press is hypothetically the law of the land in Vietnam, but the reality is very different. Last August, the country banned all blogging except "to provide and exchange personal information." That includes people posting on social media. And what's more, it explicitly bans sharing news stories.
People are not allowed "to quote general information ... information from newspapers, press agencies or other state-owned websites," according to AFP.