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Record number of online resources blocked in Russia in 2022 – survey

02.02.2023, 17:30

In 2022, a record surge in numbers of online resources and of criminal prosecutions for expressing one's opinion online has been noted.

This is stated in the annual report by the "Setevyie Svobody" project, reports "Nastoyaschee Vremya".

Last year, the report's authors note, over 637,000 online pages were blocked, which is an absolute record for the past 15 years during which "Setevyie Svobody" has been monitoring the freedom levels in the Russian Internet.

One of the main reasons for the increase in blockings, according to the survey, was the adoption of laws on military censorship, which establish criminal and administrative liability for criticizing the army, as well as the government's actions abroad.

"Due to 'military' orders by the Prosecutor General's Office and Roskomnadzor, dozens of independent Russian and foreign media, blog platforms, news aggregators, websites of human rights organizations and charities have now been blocked, and some social media (such as Facebook and Instagram, as well as Twitter) are now considered extremist and banned," the survey states.

Human rights activists also recorded 779 cases of criminal cases against Russians for expressing an opinion online, which was, according to their data, a peak annual number for 15 years of monitoring.

According to the report, at least one thousand journalists emigrated from Russia last year due to prosecution and ban on working. "The evacuation of entire teams and individual professionals created the prerequisites for the emergence of a 'second Runet', which offers fellow citizens and the world a view of the events which is free from state censorship," human rights activists emphasize.

Furthermore, in 2022, hacker attacks on state and corporate databases became more frequent, which, according to the report, became a part of cyber wars. At the same time, the record 260 cases of personal data leaks affected at least 75% of Russian residents.

The authors of the study also note that Russia, which belongs to the "unfree countries" category, showed the largest drop in the "Setevyie Svobody" rating (by 7 points). The closest runner-ups are Myanmar (5 points) and Sudan (4 points). In the list of 70 countries, Russia ranks 65th.

As IMI reported, Internet users in the occupied Crimea are already facing problems personal data protection due to the law "On sustainable Internet connection in Russia" coming into force in the Russian Federation.

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