Russian Wikipedia Goes Lights Out VS Internet Blacklisting Bill

(Ping! Zine Web Tech Magazine) – The Russian version of Wikipedia today faced a self-inflicted blackout in protest of a bill in that country that would grant the government more website blacklisting capabilities.

Attempting to access the site featured a message in the Russian language explaining Wikipedia’s opposition to the legislation. In it, Wikipedia warned that the move would increase web censorship in the country and could even result in the eventual blocking of its own site.

Supporters maintain the bill is meant to help protect children in the country, thus blacklisting sites which promote drug use, feature child pornography and advocate suicide, according to a report from the Associated Press. But Critics fear the legislation could go beyond that, instead censoring those who voice opposition to the Russian government and the administration of newly re-elected President Vladimir Putin.

The AP story also noted that web access in the country had been mostly unregulated. That’s notably different from the web in neighboring China where the government has increasingly censored websites including Facebook and YouTube.

Political tensions in the country, however, have increased. When Putin was reelected to a new non-consecutive term in December, protests filled the streets of Moscow. Putin even went so far as to blame U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for helping incite opposition to the election results. That followed the U.S. State Department’s expressed concern regarding human rights in the country.

Today’s blackout on the Russian version of Wikipedia is reminiscent of a similar action taken by the website in protest of the currently shelved American bills known as SOPA and PIPA. That blackout occurred in January.