Facebook Added to Russian Website Blocklist, Joins 30,000 Unofficial Others

Russia's Internet blacklist, which can blackhole websites for reasons ranging from copyright infringement through to drug-related information, has welcomed its highest profile addition. Russia's telecoms watchdog has confirmed that Facebook has been added to the list leaving the site just 72 hours or face being blocked by Internet service providers.

facebayThe idea that sites that do not comply with the Russia’s laws should be blocked is not new. Russia has been operating a national website blacklist since late 2012 and it currently contains hundreds of websites, from those promoting drug taking and suicide to those offering child pornography.

But while blocking the most offensive of websites receives little opposition from the public, Russia’s fledgling and largely unpopular anti-piracy law also introduced provisions for sites carrying infringing content to be blocked at the ISP level.

Introduced to a wave of controversy on August 1, the legislation allows for sites that merely link to infringing content to blocked if they do not take action within 72 hours of a complaint. Blocked sites are all placed on the national blocklist where they stay until action is taken, whether that’s removing copyrighted files or complying with some other law.

Yesterday the list enjoyed its most high-profile addition yet after complaints were made about content located on one of Facebook’s countless pages. Telecoms watchdog Roskomnadzor confirmed that the site had already been added to the blacklist and would be given three days to remove the yet to be detailed content.

Following speculation that the problem lay with an advert for ‘smoking blends’ on the site, Roskomnadzor said that it had also received complaints about other material and Facebook’s webhosts had been informed of the pending block. Facebook said it was not informed of any problems but the site is expected to do whatever is necessary to rectify the issue.

Artem Kozlyuk, head of RosKomSvoboda, an organization that monitors Russia’s blacklist, told TorrentFreak that in addition to sites being officially added to the blacklist, many thousands of websites are being blocked illegally due to broad IP address-based filters.

“99% of sites currently blocked in Russia are illegally being subjected to blocking,” Kozlyuk explained.

“At the moment, in quantitative terms, it’s more than 30,000 sites, but decisions under the law have only been issued against 450 of them. The remaining sites are being blocked just because they are on the same IP address as those carrying the illegal material.”

Kozlyuk says that the collateral damage extends far and wide, including operating system sites, libraries, publishing houses, plus forums and personal blogs of all kinds. With Russia set to broaden its new anti-piracy law, complaints are only likely to rise meaning that more blockades will be introduced and more sites will become blocked unfairly.

Meanwhile, a petition which gathered 100K signatures against the anti-piracy law looks set to fall on somewhat deaf ears. During a press conference yesterday it was made clear that the State Duma would not be withdrawing the legislation.

Minister of Culture Vladimir Medina said that canceling the law is out of the question.

“If we understand that there is private property, then intellectual property is the same. It is embedded with the blood, sweat and tears of the author. If we deny there is intellectual property, we are depriving the author of the opportunity to live,” Medina said.

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