Thousands Rally for Internet Freedom in Moscow: Monitoring Group

Thousands Rally for Internet Freedom in Moscow: Monitoring Group

Thousands Rally for Internet Freedom in Moscow: Monitoring Group

A protester holds a flag during the demonstration in Moscow on Sunday.

However, backers of the bill say it is created to ensure the operation of the Internet in the country if access to servers overseas is cut off, RFE/RL wrote.

Thousands of people rallied on the streets of Moscow over the weekend against the proposed Sovereign Internet bill. But some Russian media likened it to an online "iron curtain" and critics say it can be used to stifle dissent.

Moscow on Monday, March 11, insisted it was not moving to cut off Russia's internet from the rest of the world, following protests across the country over plans to curb online freedoms.

In a statement acquired by Reuters, one of the protesters who wishes to remain anonymous said, "If we do nothing it will get worse". Police put the figure at 6,500.

The police detained several people, including RFE/RL's Russian Service correspondent Andrei Kiselyov. "The authorities will keep following their own way and the point of no return will be passed".

Thousands Rally for Internet Freedom in Moscow: Monitoring Group

The second reading is planned in March after which, if passed, the bill will need to be signed by the upper house of the parliament and then by President Vladimir Putin.

Protests over the same internet regulation also took off in the southern city of Voronezh and the far east city of Khabarovsk.

The name Roskomsvoboda is short for Russian Freedom Committee and plays off Roskomnadzor, the name of the state communications, Internet, and media oversight agency. At the same time, it would also filter Internet traffic that comes in and out of the country.

On Thursday, its parliament passed two bills outlawing "disrespect" of authorities and the spreading of what the government deems to be "fake news". There were protests past year when the encrypted messaging app Telegram was banned by authorities who said it was being used by terrorists.

The Russian government says its "digital sovereignty bill", which requires all internet traffic in Russia to be directed through state-controlled routing points, would reduce Russia's dependence on the United States.

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