Roskomnadzor, Russia’s Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (basically its internet watchdog) has been in the news quite a bit lately. The regulatory body seems to be scouring the web, looking to block certain sites of content it deems harmful – which as of late has all related to drugs.
Now, over the past couple of days, the Russian agency directed Internet Service Providers to block a certain Wikipedia page, ISPs responded by doing what they could do (which was block all of Wikipedia for a brief time), and Roskomnadzor then lifted the ban after significant editing to the specific article.
Roskomnadzor was upset over a Wikipedia article about hashish. On Monday, it sent out a decree instructing ISPs to block access to the article. To comply with the order, ISPs were forced to block the entirety of Wikipedia because its “secure communication protocol doesn’t allow the blocking of individual articles,” according to Roskomnadzor.
But after edits to the article of which Roskomnadzor found satisfactory, the ban was lifted.
“Unexpectedly, confirmation has arrived from Roskomnadzor that the entry on Charas has been excluded from the register of banned sites,” Wikimedia Russia executive director Stas Kozlovsky said.
This isn’t the first time in recent memory the Russian watchdog has blocked access to major sites over drug content.
Roskomnadzor sent out the order to block reddit on August 12th. The government was upset over a post about the “cultivation of narcotic plants” – more specifically mushrooms. Officials said they had been trying to get in touch with reddit about removing the offending thread – but didn’t hear back. So they blocked reddit.
But reddit soon complied with the request to block the “offending” post and Russia authorities unblocked the site. This led to the revelation that reddit will, in practice, block content in certain countries to “preserve the existence of reddit in those regions.”