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Georgia’s anxiety about Russian Internet freedom2010-07-07 19:06
Russia's attempt to make the Internet space safer for its citizens seems to cause fits of hypochondria in Georgia. The limitations on Russian extremist-minded bloggers' activities are taken by their Georgian associates as personal threat. Though with a great delay, Russian Internet (RuNet) is adjusting its existence to Russian laws without deviating from the general world practice, while Georgia took care to ensure informational safety long before the 2008 war.
Georgian Internet is simple and small-scale enough to be easily controlled. This year, the Internet celebrated the registration of the eighth thousand of domain names in the .GE zone. The amount of Internet users is also not very great - just about one million people serviced by three and a half providers.
However, the Global Net law that is still not adopted in Russia had been passed in Georgia long before Rose Revolution. In 2007, basing on the report by Anna Dolidze, the then head of the Georgian Association of Young Lawyers, OSCE ranked Georgia among the countries with Internet censorship.
The fact that the state actively interfered with providers' work was confirmed in August 2008 when the government blocked all Russian websites for several weeks. "The decision on filtration and censorship was made by the executive branch of the Georgian government", - the Freedom House report said.
However, such control on the part of the state does not seem to be surprising. As we were told by Eugeniy Bespalov, director general of the Friendly RuNet foundation, there are various kinds of the Internet freedom restriction in many western democracies. He reminded that the "severe informational confrontation" was noticed not only between the participants of the conflict but also among the countries that had absolutely nothing to do with it.
- That is a normal practice during informational war. There is a saying that if a government holds no control over the informational space the space comes under control of some other government.
- What is the situation with the Internet control in the western countries?
- According to the legislation in the most democratic countries, including the United States of America, there is a sufficient amount of standards allowing the governments to limit the citizens' access to certain information in this or that way or, vice versa, to block the information from being widely distributed. A new initiative taken by President Obama's administration has been voiced recently; it is aimed at controlling informational and Internet resources as the means of information promoting.