Home Page > Publications > George Orwell's 1984 Might Become Reality In Russia

In Russia, members of their upper house of parliament have stated that they are in favour of a domestic Internet. This means that they would block out all content that is international, so that the government can have control over what is being passed through the Russian servers. Big Brother from George Orwell’s classic 1984 seemed like crazy fiction, but governments adopting these draconian initiatives are slowly taking small steps towards Orwell’s horrific vision of the future.

President Putin wants to create a firewall across the country so that the Russian government can control domestic Internet usage. The government will be able to filter the content that will go through the Russian servers, and non-Russian technology companies will have their data stored on the servers for at least six months.

Facebook and Google have not yet commented on what could potentially happen in Russia, but if they agree to these new laws, it would also be costly for these companies, as they would have to put servers and domestic data centres in Russia, and if not, then Moscow can just block them out of the domestic Internet.

Here are some examples of other countries where the government has had control over the Internet:

Iran –after the controversial elections in 2009, there were many protestors that were anti-government, so the government banned western sites such as, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. In 2011, the government decided upon the “Halal network”, where Internet users would be able to access websites that were on an “ethical and moral level”.

Turkey –due to anti-government protestors, the Prime Minister has banned Twitter and YouTube. This was only recent, March 2014, as secret audio recordings of the Prime Minister were published online which could threaten his family against corruption. However, there was a court order to remove this ban, but YouTube is still not accessible. Now, Turkey’s secret service has permission to scan users ISPs and data, as well as monitor their online activity.

North Korea – they have a state intranet that can only be used within North Korea, and no one is able to access it from outside the country. They have a Kwangmyong network, which has over 5500 websites that are linked to universities and government bodies.

China – the Chinese government blocks and filters all content that is considered to be unsafe by the Communist Party. This has proved to be very successful as the Chinese government had established these filters with the Internet from the beginning before the Internet had grown so swiftly; so now, new Chinese websites see this form of censorship as normal, as it has been ongoing since the early 2000s. Western companies have not had as much luck in the Chinese market as they cannot agree or adapt to the rules of censorship.

So it looks as if Russia’s firewall will be implemented later in 2014. They already targeted bloggers and individual websites, by threatening them with sanctions and shutting down their websites. Perhaps this is the beginning of more draconian measures let’s just hope it won’t be considered a best practice and adopted by many other governments around the world.

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