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Russia's Cyber Nanny Calls for a Clean RuNet

Images under CC license, remixed by Kevin Rothrock.

Images under CC license, remixed by Kevin Rothrock.

Do Russian children need a “clean” Internet? Parliamentarian Yelena Mizulina thinks they do. In what she describes as an effort to better protect Russia’s youngest generations, Mizulina is calling on the country’s Internet service providers to adopt a new policy that would block users’ full access to the Web—by default.

Under her plan, consumers would be allowed to disable the filtration system, known as “the Clean Internet,” but opting out would require making a special request to their ISP. The proposed system appears similar to mandatory “family-friendly” filters instituted in the UK last year, which have blocked an estimated 20% of legal websites.

The day that Mizulina’s comments went public, she told a group of technology professionals gathered at the Duma that the iPhone and the mobile Internet are making it easier to “defile children.”

A prominent lawmaker since the mid-1990s, Mizulina is one of Moscow’s most outspoken social conservatives. She has helped pass legislation that targets “homosexual propaganda,” bans Americans from adopting Russian children, and promotes Russian Orthodoxy as the foundation of the country’s cultural identity. Mizulina is also the chief author of a 2012 law that introduced Russia’s Internet blacklist, which now blocks a wide range of websites, including several news portals.

The byzantine logic behind Mizulina’s dream of a cleaner cyberspace is difficult to distill. Fortunately, she explained her positions in an interview today with the newspaper Izvestia. To gain new insight into the rationale of the RuNet’s most enthusiastic nanny, RuNet Echo has endeavored to summarize excerpts from Mizulina’s interview with Izvestia.

The RuNet Blacklist is a success because Russia is now the world’s third leading producer of child pornography.

Mizulina says:

По данным международной сети «горячих линий» INHOPE, объединяющей 49 стран, за последние два года Россия по объему распространения детской порнографии переместилась с первого места в мире на третье, уступив лидерство США и Нидерландам. Значит, важные позитивные процессы уже идут.

According to data about the distribution of child pornography from the international hotline network INHOPE, which covers 49 countries, Russia has moved from first place in the world to third place, falling below the United States and the Netherlands. This means that important, positive developments are already underway.

De facto web filtering won’t curb information freedom. Banning murder doesn’t land everyone in prison.

Известия: Вы понимаете, что сейчас предложение ввести предустановленную фильтрацию вызовет бурю возмущения?
Мизулина: Введение уголовной ответственности за убийство не означает, что все вдруг окажутся за решеткой… Мы оставляем выбор человеку.

Izvestia: You realize that your proposal to to introduce pre-set filtration will cause a public uproar?
Mizulina: Criminalizing murder doesn’t mean that everyone will suddenly find themselves behind bars… We’ll leave the [final] decision with the individual.

The RuNet Blacklist doesn’t facilitate political oppression. The only people who protest it are professional traffickers in child pornography, drugs, and…promoters of suicide?

Всё это были лишь политические спекуляции. Тем, кто привык публиковать разного рода сомнительную информацию и зарабатывать на этом деньги, ситуация не понравилась. Нужно называть вещи своими именами. Существует лобби тех, кто использует интернет для распространения наркотиков, растления детей, подталкивания их к суицидам. [...]

[Protests against the Blacklist] have been nothing but political profiteering. People who were accustomed to posting these questionable materials and making a living that way are now unhappy. We need to call a spade a spade. There exists a lobby of people who use the Internet for the distribution of narcotics, the defilement of children, and pushing kids toward suicide. [...]

Apart from the drug-porn-suicide lobby, Russia needs more Internet filtration because 87 percent of child pornography is distributed for free.

Кроме того, в России не наказуемо и хранение детской порнографии без цели сбыта. При этом, по данным той же Inhope, 87% всех материалов с детской порнографией — некоммерческого характера, ими обмениваются бесплатно.

Additionally, it’s not punishable in Russia to possess child pornography without intent to sell. Moreover, data from INHOPE shows that 87 percent of all child pornography materials are distributed noncommercially for free.

Users can opt out of filtrations if they verify their personal identity and are willing to accept responsibility for risks of unfiltered Web access — which endangers the health and safety of all children.

Чтобы отказаться от фильтрации, пользователю нужно будет подписать дополнительное соглашение с оператором связи, подтвердить свой возраст и т.д. Если родители заключают это соглашение об отмене фильтрации, они должны понимать, что риски получения ребенком потенциально вредной для него информации отныне лежат на них, равно как и ответственность за здоровье и безопасность их ребенка.

In order to cancel filtration, a user will need to sign an additional agreement with the service provider, confirming his or her age and so on. If parents sign an agreement, they need to understand the risks of potential harm facing a child, as well as their responsibility for any harm to their children’s health and security.

Russia can have a “Clean Internet” without government intervention. There’s nothing stopping the country’s Internet industry from instituting Web filtration independently.

Я убеждена, что введение фильтрации по умолчанию возможно без принятия дополнительных законов. Мы говорим о важности саморегулирования отрасли, о личной ответственности представителей интернет-индустрии: операторам связи, хостинг-провайдерам и владельцам ресурсов под силу обеспечить этот «чистый интернет» и без вмешательства государства. Правда, на практике это не всегда у них получается.

I’m confident that introducing default filtration is possible without any additional laws. We are talking about the importance of the industry’s self-regulation, about the personal responsibility of the Internet industry’s representatives: the carriers, the hosting providers, and the resource owners. They are able to provide this “Clean Internet” without the state’s inference. Granted, in practice it doesn’t always work out this way.

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