A view of the State Duma building in Moscow, in March 2018. CPJ and other rights groups have called on President Vladimir Putin to not approve amendments to a bill that could further limit internet and press freedom in Russia. (AFP/Vasily Maximov)

Letter calls on Putin to not approve Russia's 'sovereign internet' bill

By Gulnoza Said/CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator on May 1, 2019 11:22 AM ET

CPJ and a coalition of international human rights and press freedom organizations called on President Vladimir Putin to not approve legislative amendments known as the "bill on a sovereign internet" that could lead to further limitations on internet and media freedom in Russia.

In a joint letter to Putin, the organizations, led by Article 19, expressed concern over a bill that the upper house of the Russian parliament approved on April 22. If approved, Bill 608767-7's proposed amendments to the laws "On Communications and "On Information, Information Technologies, and Information Protection" would allow authorities to restrict the internet in Russia so that it operates independently from the world wide web during an emergency or security threat.

If signed by President Vladimir Putin, the bill would enter into force on November 1.

The letter stated that the proposals were broad, overly vague, and would give the government unlimited discretion to define what constitutes a threat. The letter added that the proposed law could endanger the security of commercial and private users and undermine the rights to freedom of expression and access to information.

The letter called on Putin to reject the bill and for the Russian government to review other internet-related legislation and bring its legal framework into full compliance with international freedom of expression and media freedom standards.

Read the letter here:

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