The Russian version of Wikipedia has ‘gone dark’ for 24 hours in protest against the new law that the Russian parliament are trying to pass in relation to web censorship.
If ratified, the amendments to the Act for Information would allow the Russian government to blacklist certain sites and set up an agency to maintain a list of such sites. During the blackout, visitors to the site will see a black line across the main logo and a message explaining why content is unavailable:
“The State Duma [Russian Parliament] is expected to hold a second hearing about amendments to the Information Act, which could lead to the creation of extra-judicial censorship of the entire internet in Russia, including banning access to Wikipedia in the Russian language.
Today the Wikipedia community voices protest against the introduction of censorship, which is dangerous for the freedom of knowledge – something which must be open-access for all mankind.”
However the Russian government claims the censorship is well-intentioned, saying that it wants greater powers to block sites that show child pornography, spread information about drugs and promote teenage suicide.
In turn, the Russian Human Rights Council has suggested that any proposed changes to the bill should be discussed at an open hearing, rather than behind closed doors by parliamentarians.
This is not the first time Wikipedia has ‘gone dark’ over changes to web censorship laws – you may remember the English-language version of the online encyclopedia taking similar action in January over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA).
The Act for Information is due for review in the Duma this Wednesday, July 11th.