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Rights Group of the Week: RosKomSvoboda

posted 8 May 2017, 08:39 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 8 May 2017, 09:01 ]
On 2 May 2017 the English service of Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI), an arm of the government-owned news agency RIA Novosti, reported that, according to the NGO RosKomSvoboda, four messaging services had been blocked in Russia by the Russia regulator for media and communications, Roskomnadzor, namely, BlackBerry Messenger, Imo, Line and Vchat. On 5 May, again citing RosKomSvoboda, RAPSI said that the Chinese messenger WeChat had also been blocked. It may be a rather curious fact that a state news agency should be quoting an NGO in Russia, but at the least it points to an acknowledgement of the expertise of RosKomSvoboda in its chosen area of activity.

RosKomSvoboda [РосКомСвобода] is a Russian NGO set up in 2012 with a mission to combat censorship of the Internet, as well as to promote the ideas of freedom of information and self-regulation of the internet-sector. RosKomSvoboda was set up on 1 November 2012, the day that the government's Single Register of Banned Websites (also known as the 'blacklist') came into existence. RosKomSvoboda's website points out that the name for the NGO was chosen 'as a stylistic opposition to Roskomnadzor, the government department that is directly responsible for adding websites to the blacklist and for blocking access to sites.'

RosKomSvoboda's website states: "Today RosKomSvoboda carries out continuous monitoring of the legislative activities of government bodies in relation to the Internet, and also law enforcement, in particular the blocking of websites. RosKomSvoboda conducts public campaigns and supports civic initiatives to advance freedom of information and the privacy of the personal data of Internet users. Another area of work is the protection of the rights of users and owners of websites that have been unjustifiably blocked by court decision."

Among recent activities of RosKomSvoboda have been a campaign to win the release of Dmitry Bogatov [#FreeBogatov], a mathematician currently in pre-trial detention on charges of extremism, monitoring of the government's recently introduced Register of News Agregators, and Project Safe, a resource to assist Internet users in protecting themselves from surveillance and maintaining the privacy of their data and correspondence.

'Four messaging services blocked in Russia,' RAPSI, 2 May 2017
'Popular Chinese messenger blocked in Russia,' RAPSI, 5 May 2017
RosKomSvoboda, website
РосКомСвобода, Wikipedia