Genachowski on Russian Censorship

Yesterday, the Russian Parliament approved of a bill granting power to the government to block certain websites. In response, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski issued the following statement:

Today, the Russian Federation’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, passed a bill that gives the state power to create a registry of blacklisted websites. If enacted into law, this will require Internet service providers and website hosts to block access to the blacklisted sites or risk being added to the blacklist themselves. This is a troubling and dangerous direction. The world’s experience with the Internet provides a clear lesson: a free and open Internet promotes economic growth and freedom; restricting the free flow of information is bad for consumers, businesses, and societies.

I recently attended the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia, where I met with government officials, business leaders, and entrepreneurs. I heard broad interest in expanding broadband access, and broad recognition of the potential of the Internet as a strong engine for innovation, economic
growth and creativity, as well as improved education, health care, and government services. A free and open Internet is essential to meeting these goals in Russia, as in all countries.

Growing economies everywhere promote peace and stability.  I believe this legislation will stifle investment in broadband and impede innovations that could advance Russia’s promising Internet economy. While protecting children on-line is a legitimate governmental concern, the Duma’s bill, in its current form, could lead to restricting access to valuable Internet content and services and chilling innovation, economic opportunity, as well as free expression. I urge Russia to recognize the full benefits of a free and open Internet, including a stronger economy and more prosperous and free society.

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