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Technology Controversial Russian law to control internet enters force

20:00  01 november  2019
20:00  01 november  2019 Source:   msn.com

Facebook pulls Russian accounts over political meddling in Africa

  Facebook pulls Russian accounts over political meddling in Africa Facebook has once again caught Russians trying to meddle in the politics of other countries, this time in Africa. The social media giant has pulled a total of 66 Facebook accounts, 83 Pages, 11 Groups and 12 Instagram accounts for "coordinated inauthentic behavior" that used a mix of real, fake and hijacked accounts to shape political news and discussions in eight countries, including Libya, Mozambique and Sudan. They frequently posted stories and comments boosting Russian policies in Africa (while blasting US policies), shared stories from Russian state-controlled outlets like Sputnik and RT, and took a keen interest in elections in Madagascar and Mozambique.

A controversial law that would allow Russia to cut internet traffic from international servers came into force Friday, prompting fears from rights activists of online isolation.

a hand holding a guitar in front of a keyboard: The internet is the country's main forum for political debate and opposing voices as well as coordinating opposition demonstrations© Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV The internet is the country's main forum for political debate and opposing voices as well as coordinating opposition demonstrations

The law, which President Vladimir Putin signed in May, requires Russian internet providers to install technical devices provided by the authorities to enable centralised control of traffic.

They will also filter content to prevent access to banned websites.

Russia has made a digital Iron Curtain. Will Moscow use it?

  Russia has made a digital Iron Curtain. Will Moscow use it? On Friday, a controversial new law took effect in Russia: The so-called "sovereign internet" law, which mandates the creation of an independent internet for Russia. © Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images OSAKA, JAPAN - JUNE 28, 2019: Russia's President Vladimir Putin during a meeting with US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the 2019 G20 Summit at the INTEX Osaka International Exhibition Centre. Mikhail Metzel/TASS (Photo by Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images) In effect, Moscow has given itself the power to erect a sort of digital Iron Curtain around its networks.

Supporters of the legislation say the aim is to ensure Russian sites keep working if they are unable to connect to international servers or in the case of a threat from abroad such as cyber attacks.

But rights activists say it is another censorship bid following previous efforts in Russia to block services such as the LinkedIn social media site and the Telegram messenger service.

Human Rights Watch warned that the law means the "Russian government will gain even greater control over freedom of speech and information online".

- 'Directly censor content' -

The internet is the country's main forum for political debate and opposing voices as well as coordinating opposition demonstrations.

"Now the government can directly censor content or even turn Russia's internet into a closed system without telling the public what they are doing or why," said HRW's deputy Europe and Central Asian editor Rachel Denber.

Russia's 'sovereign internet' law takes effect

  Russia's 'sovereign internet' law takes effect Russia's "sovereign internet" law, which President Vladimir Putin signed back in May, has taken effect on November 1st. As the BBC explains, it gives the country's government power to block access to content whether from within or from outside Russia "in an emergency." Of course, it's up to the government to decide what constitutes one. The government's official reason for signing the bill into law is that it will prevent cyberattacks and will allow Russia to keep its internet functioning in case the West cuts the country off from the world wide web.

The bill prompted thousands of people to join street protests in Moscow and other cities in March, with some comparing it to China's Great Firewall, which heavily restricts internet access.

The Kremlin has insisted it has no desire to isolate Russian internet users.

"No one is suggesting cutting the internet," spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said, accusing protesters of suffering from "delusions."

The bill's authors say the aim is to protect the country's websites from external threats and ensure the functioning of the internet is "safe and stable."

In the event of "threats to the stability, security and integrity" of the internet in Russia, the authorities can establish centralised control by the state telecommunications watchdog.

Internet providers have to take part in annual drills to test the technical devices needed for this.

These devices have not yet been installed by internet providers, however, and are currently being tested, the RBK business daily reported.

One of the law's authors, nationalist lawmaker Andrei Lugovoi, is a key suspect in the 2006 murder of Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko in Britain.

Want to sell that phone in Russia? Install these apps first, Putin says .
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law on Monday that will require manufactures of smartphones, computers, and Smart TVs to install Russian software on them before they can be sold in the country. © YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/AFP via Getty Images Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with journalists shortly after his annual televised phone-in with the nation in Moscow on June 20, 2019. (Photo by Yuri KADOBNOV / AFP) The move has raised concerns over state surveillance and prompted fears that companies could pull out of the Russian market.

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