Vladimir Putin, the world's most unreasonable man and president of Russia, has once again reminded everyone that his all-seeing eyes don't miss a trick – especially not online. Last week, Russia's legislative assembly passed a bill that requires any website with daily page views over 3,000 to register with the government's media oversight body, the Roskomnadzor, and that includes Twitter accounts and blogs.
Since 2012, the Roskomnadzor has blacklisted sites, declared certain swear words forbidden and also blocked access to any websites critical of Russian involvement with Ukraine. But now, popular bloggers or Twitter accounts are now subject to the same scrutiny from the Roskomnadzor as mainstream media outlets.
Putin hates the internet. At a media forum in St Petersburg on Thursday, he referred to the internet as "a CIA project that Russia needed to be protected from". There are signs that Putin harbours strong desires for a Russia–led alternative to the WWW, much like North Korea's intranet service.
Hoping that other social media sites will remain free of government influence? Bad news. VKontakte, otherwise known as the "Russian Facebook", is now in the control of two Putin loyalists called Igor Sechin and Alisher Usmanov. Its former CEO, Pavel Durov, claims that he was pushed out from the company. "Probably, in the Russian context, something like this was inevitable," he said. "I am glad we held on for seven years."
Putin is not the only world leader trying to exert maximum control over online communications. This weekend, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan passed a law that provides for prison terms of up to ten years for journalists who publish leaked information. This comes after Erdogan's longstanding war on social media, which has included attempts to ban Twitter and YouTube.
Follow Thomas Gorton on Twitter here @angstromhoot
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