Russian parliament adopts internet controls bill, stoking censorship fears

Russia’s lower chamber of parliament on Tuesday adopted a bill that would expand government control over the internet, raising fears of widespread censorship.

The State Duma overwhelmingly voted to support the bill, which still has to be approved by the upper chamber of Russia’s parliament and signed into the law by the president.

The bill requires internet providers to install equipment to route Russian internet traffic through servers in the country. That would increase the power of state agencies to control information, while users would find it harder to circumvent government restrictions, and the quality of the connection may suffer.

Proponents of the bill say it is a defence measure in case the United States or other hostile powers cut off the internet for Russia.

Twitter and Facebook have nine months to comply with the law by moving Russian user data onto servers in Russia, Interfax news agency cited communications watchdog head Alexander Zharov as saying on Tuesday.

Zharov was also quoted as saying he hoped Russia would not end up blocking Twitter and Facebook.