REEDOM ON THE
the Supreme Court against the cybercrime law.
Another prominent case did not involve a
criminal prosecution. In 2012, a group of nurses said their hospital had fired them for ‘liking’ a
Facebook post criticizing the management.
Though the state-run hospital denied Facebook was a
factor in the termination, the case evoked the same fear—of authorities taking arbitrary action over
ICT content—as the anti-cybercrime law itself.
The cybercrime act would also facilitate government surveillance of online communication,
allowing the authorities to monitor online activities, and requiring service providers to assist the
government in collecting and storing user data pertaining to acts classified as cybercrimes, including
spam and file-sharing.
The extent to which they already conduct surveillance is not clear. The
government acted on Section 10 of the law to create an anti-cybercrime group within the Philippine
police force in March 2013.
It is not known whether the team has begun collecting real-time
traffic data based on the law’s contested section 12.
A Data Privacy Act introduced into law on August 15, 2012 establishes parameters for the
collection of personal information and an independent privacy regulator, but only pertaining to data
voluntarily provided in private or official transactions, such as credit card information or social
While many clauses are ICT-specific, requiring those who control information
online to take steps such as assessing reasonably foreseeable vulnerabilities in computer networks, it
does not redress the provisions in the Cybercrime Prevention Act that would allow monitoring or
collection of personal data in criminal cases with neither the user nor the court’s consent.
Other laws with privacy implications include the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009 which
explicitly states that its section on ISPs may not be “construed to require an ISP to engage in the
monitoring of any user,”
though it does require them to “obtain” and “preserve” evidence of
violations, and threatens to revoke their license for non-compliance; section 12 of the law also
authorizes local government units to monitor and regulate commercial establishments that provide
internet services. Under the Human Security Act of 2007, law enforcement officials must obtain a
Tricia Aquino, “Cebu Resident Subpoenaed Over ‘Cyber‐Libelous’ YouTube Post”, October 27, 2012, InterAksyon,
Matika Santos, “Audio Recording Bares Nurses Fired Over Facebook ‘Like’ on Critical Status Update,” Inquirer, October 10,
Paul Tassi, “The Philippines Passes a Cybercrime Prevention Act that Makes SOPA Look Reasonable,” Forbes, October 2, 2012,
Official Homepage of the Philippine National Police, “PNP Activates Anti‐Cybercrime Group,” press release, March 21, 2013,
Tetch Torres, “Gov’t Admits Cyberlaw Barely Constitutional,” January 29, 2013, Inquirer,
“Republic Act No. 10173,” Official Gazette, August 15, 2012, http://www.gov.ph/2012/08/15/republic‐act‐no‐10173/; Janette
Toral, “Salient features of Data Privacy Act of 2012 – Republic Act 10173,” Digital Filipino, December 17, 2012,
Alec Christie and Arthur Cheuk, “Australia: New Tough Privacy Regime in the Philippines Data Privacy Act Signed Into Law,”
DLA Piper Australia via Mondaq, October 27, 2012,
“Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Anti‐Child Pornography Act of 2009,” via University of Minnesota Human Rights
Library, accessed July 2013,
REEDOM ON THE
court order to intercept communications or conduct surveillance activities against individuals or
organizations suspected of terrorist activity.
To date, no abuse of this law has been reported.
Other bills pending in Congress as of March 2013 would potentially add to privacy concerns by
requiring ISPs, web-hosts, and educational institutions to monitor users trying to access child
pornography, gambling sites, or performing illegal hacking.
Violence against journalists is a significant problem in the Philippines. As of April 30, 2013, the
Committee to Protect Journalists reported at least 73 Philippine journalists had been killed in
relation to their work—most covering political beats—since the organization started compiling
records in 1992.
Not one of these murders has been fully prosecuted—meaning that everyone
responsible for both ordering and executing the killing have been tried and convicted—creating an
entrenched culture of impunity that sends the message that individuals exercising free speech can be
attacked at will. This trend has yet to make itself felt among internet users: There have been no
prominent cases reported of attacks on bloggers for online expression, though some fear that may
change as internet penetration grows and more people turn to web-based news sources.
There are no restrictions on anonymous communication in the Philippines. The government does
not require the registration of user information prior to logging online or subscribing to internet
and mobile phone services, especially since prepaid services are widely available, even in small
There have been no reports of politically-motivated incidents of technical violence or cyberattacks
perpetrated by the government towards private individuals. However, in October 2012, the
Philippine chapter of the group Anonymous perpetrated a series of cyberattacks against
government- and privately-owned websites.
“Republic Act 9372 – Human Security Act of 2011 (full text),” Philippine e‐Legal Forum, July 10, 2007, http://jlp‐
For example, “SBN‐1710: Safer Net Act,” Senate of the Philippines, accessed July, 2013,
The organization documented an additional 37 journalist murders in which the motive was not confirmed. Committee to
Protect Journalists, “73 Journalists Murdered in Philippines since 1992,” accessed May 2013,
Camille Diola, “‘Anonymous Philippines’ Hacks Gov’t Websites Anew,” Philippine Star, January 15, 2013,
REEDOM ON THE
The number of websites classified as extremist material and blocked by the Ministry of
Justice increased approximately 60 percent from January 2012 to February 2013 (see
In July 2012, the State Duma passed Federal Law #139-FZ which allows the
government to create a list of websites that ISPs must block without any mechanism for
judicial oversight. This law is intended to restrict access to sites with illegal content,
such as child pornography, drug-related material, or extremist content; however, sites
with legitimate content have also been blocked under this law (see L
Internet use continued to be a significant tool for mobilization and communication
among civil society and opposition groups (see L
In July 2012, the Russian criminal code was amended to recriminalize defamation in
traditional and online media (see V
Cases of criminal prosecution for online activities increased from 38 in 2011 to 103 in
2012 (see V
Obstacles to Access (0-25)
Limits on Content (0-35)
Violations of User Rights (0-40)
*0=most free, 100=least free
REEDOM ON THE
Since Vladimir Putin’s return to the presidency in May 2012, issues related to internet freedom in
Russia have continued to move toward the forefront of social and political concerns. Activists
demonstrated the internet’s wide-ranging potential for political mobilization and, in so doing, have
attracted the close attention of the authorities. Increasingly, the internet is regarded by the Russian
state as a realm that requires tighter regulation and restrictions.
The number of active online users continues to grow, particularly in small towns and among older
There was a notable increase in the number of websites on the three Russian top-level
domains (.ru, .su and .рф), and by the end of 2012, a total of 5,156,504 domain names were
registered by 25 accredited registrars.
At the same time, many website owners have begun to
choose foreign jurisdictions to host their sites; last year showed a rapid growth in Russian demand
for renting server equipment outside of the country.
In July 2012, the government passed Federal Law #139-FZ, which allows for the creation of a
“blacklist” of websites that internet service providers (ISPs) within Russia are required to block.
The law is intended to block access to illegal or otherwise harmful material on the internet, such as
child pornography, material related to drug abuse, and so forth. However, there is no judicial
approval required to place a website on the blacklist, and many websites with legitimate content
have also been blocked in the process. Critics warn that the law is difficult to implement without
negatively impacting otherwise legal online activities, and that it could be used to directly censor
The number of legal restrictions against online users also increased over the past year, including an
increase in the number of criminal prosecutions against online users, and the recriminalization of
defamation through legislation passed by the State Duma. Moreover, well-known bloggers like
Aleksei Navalny and Rustem Adagamov,
as well as regular users and activists, were subjected to
harassment and prosecution. For the first time, internet activists began to flee Russia, seeking
asylum in other countries.
Elena Milashina, “Russia steps up crackdown on rights groups, Internet,” Committee to Protect Journalists, March 26, 2013,
Anastasia Golitsyna, “Google ускоряет шаг” [Google Speeds Up], Vedomosti.ru, January 29, 2013,
“Russian Domains” [in Russian], Statdom.ru, accessed July 30, 2013, http://statdom.ru/.
“Russian Customers Fill Up European Data‐Centers” [in Russian], accessed July 30, 2013,
Alan Cullison, “Russia Investigates Allegations Against Opposition Blogger,” Wall Street Journal, January 11, 2013,
“Estonia Grants Political Asylum to Blogger Who Criticised Russian Orthodox Church,” Agora Human Rights Association,
October 19, 2012, http://agora.rightsinrussia.info/archive/news/efimov/asylum.
REEDOM ON THE
The internet penetration rate in Russia has continued to grow over the past few years.
In 2012, the
internet penetration rate stood at 53 percent, up from 25 percent in 2007, according to the
International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
Survey data from the Public Opinion Foundation
indicates that the estimated number of people who use the internet on a daily basis increased from
44.3 million users (38 percent of the population) at the end of 2011 to 50.1 million users (43
percent of the population ) at the end of 2012.
During this time period, the greatest growth in
internet use occurred in villages and towns with less than 100,000 inhabitants.
The mobile phone
penetration rate at the end of 2012 was 161 percent, with approximately 230 million mobile phone
subscribers among the top seven Russian mobile service providers.
In early 2013, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev commissioned the Ministry of Communications
and several other government bodies to develop a series of measures by April 1, 2013 that would
reduce the cost of broadband internet access for households.
The average monthly cost of a
broadband connection with a speed of 1 Mbps is $1.80.
Currently, however, it costs service
providers RUB 12,000 (approximately US$365) to connect one household to a broadband
This cost may be one of the determining factors in the persisting gap in internet
penetration between large cities and rural areas, and among different regions of the country. For
instance, the penetration rate in the Northwestern Federal District reached 62 percent in 2012,
whereas in the Volga and North Caucasus regions it did not exceed 49 percent.
In part, this gap in
internet access is counteracted by the explosive growth of mobile internet access. By the end of
2012, there were approximately 22.5 million mobile internet subscribers, an increase of 88 percent
Internet access in schools also varies according to region, with many Russian schools still lacking an
internet connection. According to a survey conducted by the National Training Foundation, 70
Public Opinion Foundation, “Интернет в России: динамика проникновения. Осень 2012” [Internet in Russia: Dynamics of
Penetration. Fall 2012], December 18, 2012, http://runet.fom.ru/Proniknovenie‐interneta/10738.
International Telecommunication Union (ITU), “Percentage of individuals using the Internet,” 2007 & 2012, accessed July 13,
Public Opinion Foundation, “Internet in Russia. Report highlights,” accessed July 30, 2013, http://www.ewdn.com/wp‐
Public Opinion Foundation, “Internet Audience: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow...” [in Russian], November 29, 2012,
Advanced Communications & Media, “Cellular Data,” accessed July 30, 2013, http://www.acm‐consulting.com/data‐
“Medvedev Commanded to Decrease the cost of Internet access in Russia” [in Russian], RIA Novosti, January 21, 2013,
Maria Petrova, “Broadband Access to the Internet Must Become Cheaper” [in Russian], Comnews.ru, January 22, 2013,
“В село проведут инновационную сеть,” RBC Daily, January 22, 2013, http://www.rbcdaily.ru/media/562949985558334.
“Dynamics of Internet penetration in Federal Districts and settlements” [in Russian], December 18, 2012,
“Mobile Internet Market Review. Use of mobile internet through smartphones and tablet PCs,” J'son and Partners Consulting
Official Website, January 2013, http://bit.ly/15BZjTz.
REEDOM ON THE
percent of schools in cities with more than 1 million inhabitants are connected to the internet,
whereas in rural areas, less than 45 percent of schools have internet access.
In May 2012, several Russian ISPs (VimpelCom, Megafon, Mobile TeleSystems and the state-
controlled company Rostelecom) announced plans to develop an underwater fiber-optic cable
connecting towns on the island of Sakhalin to the Far East regions of Kamchatka and Magadan.
The project, which would significantly lower prices of internet access on the island, is expected to
take about two years to complete.
It should be noted, however, that there have been multiple
failed attempts to construct an undersea cable to Sakhalin in the past.
There are no specific legal restrictions on ICT connectivity or limitations on social media and
communication apps. However, in September 2012, members of the State Duma issued a proposal
that would outlaw the use of anonymizers and circumvention tools that enable users to send and
receive encrypted data, access blocked websites, or make their online activities less conspicuous.
As of May 2013, this proposal had not been acted upon and the use of these tools is still legal,
although in August 2013 the FSB director revived this debate by announcing that his agency would
begin working with other Russian law enforcement and security bodies to draft such legislation.
The broadband market in Russia is still highly concentrated. State-owned provider Rostelecom
controls 39 percent of the broadband market, while the other five main providers (VimpelCom,
ER-Telecom, Mobile TeleSystems, TransTelecom, and AKADO) together control approximately
The remaining 21 percent of the market is controlled by smaller ISPs. This data
reflects the overall market distribution throughout the country; however, competition is much
lower in small towns and regions where only a few service providers operate.
Russian mobile communications market is dominated by three leading companies—Mobile
TeleSystems, VimpelCom, and Megafon—which together control 82 percent of the market.
Компьютерная оснащенность школ. РИАН [“Computer equipment in schools”], RIA Novosti, September 11, 2012,
«Стартовали проектно‐изыскательские работы по строительству подводной ВОЛС «Сахалин‐Магадан‐Камчатка»
[“Ctartovali design work for the construction of underwater fiber‐optic ‘Sakhalin‐Magadan‐Kamchatka’”], Corporate website of
Rostelecom, June 9, 2012, http://www.kamchatka.rt.ru/press/news/news877.
“Russians to link eastern islands by cable,” Global Telecom Business, May 16, 2012,
“The island of Sakhalin is still very far away,” The Economist, April 5, 2010,
Dmitry Runkevich, Депутаты запретят анонимность в сети [The deputies shall ban anonymity on the Net], Izvesita.ru,
September 21, 2012, http://izvestia.ru/news/535724.
“Russia’s FSB mulls ban on ‘Tor’ online anonymity network,” RT.com, August 16, 2013, http://rt.com/politics/russia‐tor‐
Advanced Communications & Media, “Russian Residential Broadband Data 2012,” accessed July 30, 2013, http://www.acm‐
Интернет в глубинке: обзор стоимости ШПД в небольших городах [Internet in remote places: overview of broadband
access cost in small towns], Telecomza.ru, April 17, 2013, http://telekomza.ru/2013/04/17/internet‐v‐glubinke‐obzor‐stoimosti‐
Advanced Communications & Media, “Cellular Data 2012,” accessed July 30, 2013, http://www.acm‐consulting.com/data‐
REEDOM ON THE
The ICT and media sector is regulated by the Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of
Telecom, Information Technologies, and Mass Communications (Roskomnadzor) under the
control of the Ministry of Communications and Mass Media and the Government of the Russian
Federation. With the new internet blacklist law (Federal Law #139-FZ) going into effect in
November 2012, Roskomnadzor now has the authority to determine if a website should be blocked
based on whether or not the site contains material that is restricted by the law; these decisions do
not require prior court approval. As a result, Roskomnadzor has become a primary player in the
field of controlling and filtering information on the internet. Concerning the technical aspects of
access to the internet, the regulatory bodies generally operate fairly. However, their efforts to
overcome the digital gap and open up the ICT market to greater competition have been
In 2012–2013, the Russian government ramped up its practice of restricting online content through
the blocking of websites. In addition to a 60 percent increase in the number of websites placed on
the federal list of extremist materials from January 2012 to February 2013, with the enactment of
Federal Law #139-FZ in November 2012, the regulatory authority can now place websites deemed
“harmful to the health and development of children” on an internal blacklist of sites that ISPs are
required to block, without prior decisions or approval by a court.
Blocking access to information on entire websites, IP addresses, and particular webpages has
become the most common means in Russia to restrict user activity on the internet. This control
over online content expanded after Federal Law #139-FZ was passed on July 28, 2012. Commonly
known as “the internet blacklist law,” this law, for the first time in Russian history, legalised the
blocking of access to websites without requiring a court ruling. Since the law took effect on
November 1, 2012, websites on which experts find pornographic images of minors, information
about suicide techniques, or information on preparing or taking drugs can be placed on a special
register within two days, and access to these sites can be blocked on the basis of a decision by
Roskomnadzor. In addition to the material targeted in the legislation, blocked websites have
included Ri-online.ru (the website of Ingushetia Online, a local news site), a Jehovah's Witnesses
websites of Caucasian separatists, blogs on LiveJournal, and an analytical article by the public
figure and academic Yuri Afanasyev.
During the first four months of the enforcement of Federal Law #139-FZ (November 1, 2012–
February 28, 2013), 309 domain names were banned and 197 IP addresses were blocked, causing
approximately 4,000 blockings of those resources that shared IP addresses with banned sites.
November 2012, during the first weeks of the implementation of the new law, dozens of websites
“Jehovah's Witnesses website identified as extremist” [in Russian], SecurityLab.ru, June 15, 2012,
“Register of extremist materials was replenished with an article by Yuri Afanasyev” [in Russian], Agentura.yu, February 19,
“The Register Monitoring” [in Russian], February 27, 2013, http://rublacklist.net/4445/#more‐4445.
REEDOM ON THE
were blocked for seemingly arbitrary reasons. Among those sites were popular resources such as
Lurkmore.to (a wiki-based ironic online encyclopedia for internet subcultures), RuTracker.org (a
popular torrent tracker), and Lib.rus.ec (an open library).
In the period from July to December 2012, Google reported that there were 114 requests by the
Russian authorities to remove content from various Google platforms, compared to 4 requests
during the same period in 2011.
These included 111 requests issued by police or executive
authorities and 3 court orders. Material related to suicide promotion and drug abuse accounted for
the majority of the removal requests (56 requests and 51 requests, respectively), followed by 3
cases related to defamation, 3 related to privacy and security, and 1 related to hate speech. In
response to these requests, Google removed content for violating their own product policies in
more than half of the cases, and restricted content from local view in about one third of the cases.
In September 2012, there were widespread demands from prosecutors’ offices and from
Roskomnadzor to block access to sites hosting fragments of the “Innocence of Muslims” video.
According to Google’s Transparency Report, the company decided to restrict in-country access to
the video in eight countries, including Russia.
However, prior to this restriction, demands from
the General Prosecutor went out to ISPs across the country, instructing the service providers to
block access to the content prior to any court decisions. Given the varying nature of each request,
some ISPs opted to block the entire YouTube platform, rendering it temporarily inaccessible for
users in certain regions, while other ISPs also blocked access to the social network Vkontakte for
containing pages with links to the video.
In each case, the service providers complied with the
request before the court identified the video as containing extremist material.
In late 2011, Roskomnadzor announced that it had installed online software to detect “extremist”
material. Under the new system, websites flagged by the software are given three days to take
down the allegedly offending content. If a site does not comply, two additional warnings are sent
followed by a complete shutdown. The test mode version of the software was to begin operating in
December 2011, though its full deployment was indefinitely postponed as of mid-2012. The
Ministry of Justice, on the other hand, has invited bids to create its own internet monitoring
system, apparently for the purposes of examining content related to the Russian government and
justice systems, and to any European Union statement concerning Russia.
The practice of identifying online materials as extremist, which was widespread and used to block
websites after the adoption of anti-extremist legislation in 2002, expanded in 2012 when dozens of
webpages were added to a federal list of extremist materials, operated by the Ministry of Justice.
“Russia,” Google Transparency Report 2012, accessed July 30, 2013,
“Google Transparency Report: Russia,” July‐December, 2012, accessed July 30, 2012,
Maria Kravchenko, “Inappropriate Enforcement of Anti‐Extremist Legislation in Russia in 2012,” edited by Alexander
Verhovsky, SOVA Center for Information and Analysis, June 26, 2013, http://www.sova‐center.ru/en/misuse/reports‐
“2012 Surveillance: Russia,” Reporters Without Borders, March 12, 2012, http://bit.ly/VoO1HS.
REEDOM ON THE
The federal list contains details of court decisions that identify any online information materials as
extremist. As of February 2013, the list included 1,704 items, compared to 1,066 as of January
According to the law, anyone who disseminates these materials, either offline or online,
may be administratively or criminally prosecuted and receive a penalty ranging from a fine of RUB
1,000 (approximately $30) to up to 5 years imprisonment, depending upon the legal treatment.
In total, no less than 608 decisions were made during 2012 to block access to websites, either
through court judgments or by service providers, compared to 231 decisions in 2011.
number does not include blockings made under the new “blacklist law.” At the end of 2012,
Roskomnadzor officials reported that 1206 entries were made on the Unified Register at the site
Zapret-info.gov.ru, which means either that the information on these sites was deleted or that the
website was blocked completely.
At the end of 2011, new rules for the registration of domain names for the domains “.ru” and
“.РФ” were adopted by the Coordination Center for TLD RU/РФ
These rules have given
registrars the right to terminate the domain name delegation of a website based on a decision in
writing by the head of an agency which exercises operational search actions, such as the police, the
Federal Security Service, the drug police, or the customs agency. In accordance to these rules, in
February 2012 the domain name registrar Masterhost discontinued its delegation of the Andrei
Rylkov Foundation for Health and Social Justice’s domain—Rylkov-fond.ru— based on a report by
the head of the directorate of the Moscow branch of the Federal Service for Drug Control, which
stated that “the office received information that the domain [...] contained materials that
propagandised (advertised) the use of narcotics.” In reality, the foundation’s site contained official
documents on replacement therapy from the World Health Organisation and the United Nations
Office on Drugs and Crime.
Some actions taken by local prosecutors and regional courts regarding the blocking of online
content have been questionable. In August 2012, for example, the Perm City Court forced an ISP
to block a free listings website, stating that a search for the phrase “buy marijuana in Perm” using
the Yandex search engine provided a link to that website. According to a representative from the
company that ran the site, an advertisement for a smoking blend had indeed been placed on the site.
However, the government bodies had not contacted the site owner, and instead went straight to
court. Although the moderator subsequently deleted the advertisement, the ruling to force the
service provider to block the site’s IP address had already taken legal effect.
“Federal list of extremist materials,” Ministry of Justice official website, accessed July 30, 2013,
AGORA Association, Доклад: Россия как глобальная угроза свободному Интернету [Report: Russia ‐ a global threat to
Internet freedom], http://eliberator.ru/news/detail.php?ID=21.
Twitter account of the Head of Russian Association for Electronic Communications (RAEC) Sergey Plugotarenko [in Russian],
December 21, 2012, https://twitter.com/plugotarenko/status/282014753851854848/photo/1.
“The Terms and Conditions of Domain Names Registration in domains .RU and .РФ,” The Coordination Center for TLD RU,
accessed July 30, 2013, http://cctld.ru/en/docs/rules.php.
“Rules Governing Registration of Domain Names Allow Law Enforcement to Arbitrarily Block Websites,” Agora Human Rights
Association, February 7, 2012, http://agora.rightsinrussia.info/archive/news/domains/andrei‐rylkov.
Documents you may be interested
Documents you may be interested