Russia’s social network controls: The camel in the tent

Posted on April 2, 2013  /  0 Comments

An old folk tale describes a tired traveler in the desert, where the nights are cold. His camel is outside the tent. The camel wants the warmth of the tent. The traveler permits him to bring in the snout. By morning, the camel is in the tent and the traveler outside.

This appears to be the fear around Russia’s moves to request selective censorship of social media content:

But opposition leaders have railed against the law as a crack in the doorway to broader Internet censorship. They say they worry that social networks, which have been used to arrange protests against President Vladimir V. Putin, will be stifled.

The child protection law, they say, builds a system for government officials to demand that companies selectively block individual postings, so that contentious material can be removed without resorting to a countrywide ban on, for example, Facebook or YouTube, which would reflect poorly on Russia’s image abroad and anger Internet users at home.

So far at least, the Russians have been mostly singling out not political content but genuinely distressing material posted by Russian-speaking users.

I can sympathize with both viewpoints: that this is indeed the Putin Camel poking his head in, and that it is reasonable for different communities to seek to protect themselves from content they consider haram.


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