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Thousands of people are protesting Russia’s new internet bill

March 11, 2019

Protests have taken place in Russian cities, including Moscow, against the government’s plans to enforce tougher internet controls.

What it’s all about: The “digital sovereignty bill” requires Russian telecom companies to be able to reroute all internet traffic to exchange points approved by Roskomnadzor, Russia’s telecom regulator. Authorities say the bill will improve the nation’s cybersecurity.

But critics have dubbed it an “internet iron curtain” that will make it easier to censor politically unfavorable content. Last week the country’s lower house passed the bill. A second vote is to take place this month, and then President Putin will sign it into law.

The march: An estimated 15,000 people took to the streets in Moscow yesterday to protest the bill. Smaller protests took place in two other cities. They chanted slogans such as “Hands off the internet” and “No to isolation, stop breaking the Russian internet,” according to Reuters.

Clampdown: The new bill is part of wider plans by Russia to exercise more oversight over what happens online. There were protests last year when the encrypted messaging app Telegram was banned by authorities, who said it was being used by terrorists. Protesters said the move was purely censorship designed to stifle dissent.  

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