Thousands of Russians protest against internet restrictions

Thousands of Russians protest against internet restrictions

Thousands of Russians protest against internet restrictions

What's it 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 telecoms regulator.

A mass march in Moscow and similar protests in two other cities were held after parliament supported the controversial bill last month.

But an estimated 15,300 people protested at the weekend in Moscow and reportedly made speeches on a stage and chanted slogans such as "hands off the internet" and "no to isolation, stop breaking the Russian internet".

Approximately fifteen thousand people rallied in Moscow today in a protest against government attempts to censor the internet.

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A data released by non-government organization White Counter, the protesters numbered to around 15,300 people. "The authorities will keep following their own way and the point of no return will be passed", said 28-year-old protester Dmitry, who declined to give his full name to Reuters.

The police detained several people, including RFE/RL's Russian Service correspondent Andrei Kiselyov. Police have not announced any detentions.

Officially sanctioned protests took place in Moscow, the southern city of Voronezh and Khabarovsk in the east, while a few people protested in St. Petersburg without authorization, Reuters noted.

Russian Federation has introduced a swathe of tougher internet laws in recent years.

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The bill also proposes building a national Domain Name System to allow the internet to continue functioning even if the country is cut off from foreign infrastructure.

The bill has passed the first of three readings in the Duma, the lower house of parliament.

Proponents say it aims to make what they call the Russian segment of the Internet more independent, and argue that the legislation is needed to guard Russia against potential cyberattacks.

Russia's domestic Internet was largely unregulated in the early years of President Vladimir Putin's government, as the Kremlin focused on gaining control over the most influential media outlets, then in broadcasting and print.

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