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Russia Threatens To Ban BuzzFeed

BuzzFeed has received a warning over a post on this week’s attack in the capital of Chechnya.

UPDATED — Dec. 6, 10:47am:

Russia has warned BuzzFeed that it will ban access to the entire site over a post published on Wednesday about a deadly gunfight in the capital of Chechnya.

BuzzFeed received an email on Friday from Roskomnadzor, Russia’s federal communications agency, saying that the post “contains appeals to mass riots, extremist activities or participation in mass (public) actions held with infringement of the established order.” It cited statutes laid out by the prosecutor general’s office and said access to the site “is restricted by communications service providers in the territory of the Russian Federation.” It has given BuzzFeed 24 hours to remove the post or face a total ban.

The article, published late Wednesday and updated on Thursday, uses reports, video and social media posts to tell the story of a shootout between Islamist rebels in Grozny, the Chechen capital, and Russian troops. The attack was the largest in years in the Chechen capital, which has been rebuilt by Chechnya’s authoritarian ruler Ramzan Kadyrov following years of war.

The story includes a video hosted by YouTube by Kavkaz Center, the rebels’ online mouthpiece, which is banned in Russia. As of Friday afternoon, the video had been removed by YouTube and replaced with a phrase saying it violated YouTube’s terms of service. BuzzFeed has removed the video since it has been disabled. The email from Roskomnadzor does not make clear if it objects to the whole post, or to certain video or other materials that appear in the post.

Earlier this week, Russia briefly banned Vimeo because it hosted an ISIS propaganda video. It also briefly banned Github for a post that it said violated a law on promoting suicide. It has also recently toughened laws on internet policing. It has also targeted local news sites, banning access to several that have been critical of Vladimir Putin. Russia maintains a list of blacklisted websites.

The email from Roskomnadzor, sent to BuzzFeed’s “community help” and “editorial feedback” email addresses, is posted below:

WHERE: http://www.buzzfeed.com/jasonwells/several-police-officers-shot-dead-by-militants-in-chechen-ca

FROM: Roskomnadzor

EMAIL: 398-fz@rkn.gov.ru

WHAT HAPPENED:
Notice

on restricting access to the information resource on which the information is placed containing appeals to mass riots, extremist activities, participation in mass (public) actions held with infringement of the established order

Record identifier 2335-HB

In accordance with article 15.3 of Federal Law No. 149-FZ of 7/27/2006 On Information, Information Technologies and on Protection of Information we notify that according to the demand of the Office of Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation No. 27-27-2014/Ид4065-14 of 04.12.2014 the information placed on the information resource http://www.buzzfeed.com/ contains appeals to mass riots, extremist activities or participation in mass (public) actions held with infringement of the established order.
On the basis of the demand of the Office of Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation No. 27-27-2014/Ид4065-14 of 04.12.2014 on taking measures on restricting access to the information resources disseminating the information containing appeals to mass riots, extremist activities or participation in mass (public) actions held with infringement of the established order the access to the information resource (pages) http://www.buzzfeed.com/ is restricted by communications service providers in the territory of the Russian Federation.
Within one day from the time of receipt of this notice the hosting provider or the other person ensuring placement in the information and telecommunication network including the Internet shall inform on it the owner of the information resource served by them and to notify him on the necessity to immediately remove the information containing appeals to mass riots, extremist activities or to participation in mass (public) actions held with infringement of the order established by the law.
In case the information resource owner has removed the information containing appeals to mass riots, extremist activities, participation in mass (public) actions held with infringement of the established order he shall send a notice on it to the Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications to the E-mail address 398-fz@rkn.gov.ru with indication in the E-mail subject of the Record identifier 2335-HB for the purpose of checking and renewal of access upon confirmation of the fact of removal. Such notice may be also sent via web form available at the web-address: http://398-fz.rkn.gov.ru/toproviders/?entryKey=5480a49e9704c#form

At this address it is also possible to validate the information specified in this notice on restricting access to an information resource.

BuzzFeed replied to the email asking what precisely Roskomnadzor objected to, and noted that the YouTube video had been disabled. Several hours later, we received this reply:

Hello,
Yes, that’s right, the video was deleted by YouTube. Thank you for your cooperation.

Sincerely,
THE FEDERAL SERVICE FOR SUPERVISION OF COMMUNICATIONS,
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY, AND MASS MEDIA

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Miriam Elder is the world editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Her secure PGP fingerprint is 5B5F EC17 C20B C11F 226D 3EBE 6205 F92F AC14 DCB1
Contact Miriam Elder at miriam.elder@buzzfeed.com.
 
 

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