RUSSIA (CelebrityAccess) – Russian lawmakers have today (April 11) approved a bill that would expand government control over the internet, reports the Associated Press.
The bill passed by 322-15 in a second reading in the lower house of parliament. If signed into law, the bill would reportedly install equipment to route Russian internet traffic through servers in the country further increasing the powers of state agencies and making it harder for users to circumvent government restrictions, according to AP.
Although the bill must pass a third reading and the upper house before being signed into law by President Vladimir Putin, the prospect sparked wide-spread protests in Moscow last month.
Opponents of the bill argue that expanded government control over the internet, including the flow of information and the ability of government agencies to enforce blocks on messaging applications such as Telegram, which refuse to hand over user data, will surely usher in a new era of widespread censorship.
Meanwhile, the bill’s backers continue to insist that the bill will serve as a “defense measure” in the event that Russia is cut off from the internet by the United States or other hostile powers, according to AP.