In Russia, more than 885,000 websites were blocked in the first half of 2023, which is 85% more than in the same period in 2022, Kommersant reports, citing data from Roskomnadzor.
The agency also blocked or removed about 1.1 million individual content, up 10% from all of 2022.
Blocking in Russia includes sites and materials that the Russian authorities consider “information prohibited by law.” In addition to pornography, information about drugs, pirated content, and “information of an extremist nature,” Russians are restricted from accessing resources of persons or organizations recognized in the Russian Federation as “foreign agents,” texts about the LGBT community, and news about the war in Ukraine.
In early September, the Ministry of Digital Transformation published a draft resolution, according to which Roskomnadzor will be able to block sites with information on how to bypass blocking. The department itself has been blocking VPN services for several years, but IT market participants who spoke with the publication doubt that blocking can lead to the complete closure of VPN services for both users and businesses.
Mass blocking of sites in Russia began after its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Already on February 24, Roskomnadzor demanded that the media publish only “data from official Russian sources” about the war with Ukraine, threatening to fines and block them. The agency also required the media to remove information about the war that the Russian authorities consider “untrue.” As a result, hundreds of thousands of sites, social networks Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, as well as independent media sites, including Present Time and Radio Liberty, were blocked in Russia.
In mid-August, the Russian provider Rostelecom sent out a letter to its employees with a proposal to test a resource with which you can watch videos on YouTube not directly, but through the website ytonline.ru created by Rostelecom. The head of the Internet Protection Society, Mikhail Klimarev, who drew attention to this, suggested that Rostelecom was probably testing a filter for censoring YouTube, and admitted that the Russian authorities would block the service, but would retain the ability to watch videos through a “layout” – the Rostelecom website.