04 August 2015, 10:09
Every second Russian supports censorship online - survey
Moscow, August 4, Interfax - Russians are ready to entrust the regulation of the Internet to the government (42%) or intelligence services (41%); overall, almost every second Russian (49%) believes that information available online should be censored, the Russian Public Opinion Research Center told Interfax.
The survey results are available in a report called Benchmarking Public Demand: Russia's Appetite for Internet Control that was compiled based on the results of a survey by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center and the Center for Global Communication Studies at Annenberg School for Communication at the U.S. University of Pennsylvania.
Among other possible regulators that they could entrust with oversight of the Internet, Russians named scientists (32%), the president of Russia (30%), the State Duma (28%), private corporations (26%), NGOs and other groups of civic society (21%), and international organizations in which the Russian bureaucracy does not participate (i.e. UN or ICANN, 10%.).
Only two percent of Russians would entrust the regulation of the Internet to international organizations that are closely cooperating with Russian authorities - such as the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
According to the survey, almost half of Russians (49%) believe that the information in the Internet had to be subject to censorship. "This percentage is strongly interconnected with the frequency of personal Internet use: 57% of those who do not normally use the Internet, are in favor of the censorship, while the number of censorship supporters among frequent Internet users is less (43%)," the report said.
According to the report, Russians believe that first of all, the government should regulate materials protected by copyright (59%), foreign news sites (45%), foreign websites in general (38%), as well as any content fostering ethnic and racial hatred (37%).
The majority of Russians (59%) said that the government must ban homosexual and pornographic content. Many Russians were sure that the government had to ban all communities created on social networking websites that were implicated in organizing anti-government protests (46%), all Pussy Riot videos (45%), the web page of the community that published the Government's list of the banned websites (44%), as well as web pages of bloggers calling for a power shift (43%).
In the opinion of 56% of respondents, the government should listen to public opinion and consult with the public on the regulation of the Internet. Roughly one third (36%) of Russians are convinced that the government may listen to public opinion when it deems it is necessary, but overall, the government should be making its own choices. Nine percent of Russian residents believe that the government should pay no attention to public opinion as soon as regulation of the Web is concerned.
A little more than one third of Russians (35%) said they had never heard or had never been aware of a law stipulating for the creation of a "black list" of websites banned by the government. Every second Russian (51%) would agree on that the main driving force for the government in its efforts to introduce the law on websites' 'black list' was the intent of the authorities to maintain political stability. However, 13% of the participants were sure that it had been done to restrict democratic freedoms.
Many Russians (39%) believe that personal blogs must fall under the laws that regulate the media. Fifteen percent said that the regulation of Web blogs had to be less strict, while 13% supported the opposite approach, and other 14% said that no regulation of blogs was needed. A large group of the survey's participants (19%) were undecided.
The report said that 42% of Russian residents of legal age used the Internet daily, 20% occasionally, and 38% had not been on the Web for six months or longer.
Frequent Internet users in Russia are young and well-educated, 59% of them falling into the age group between 18-34 years old, and almost the half of them (45%) possessing a university degree [bachelor's degree or higher]. Those who do not use the Internet at all, mostly fall within the age group "55 years plus" (59%) and are female (59%), with very few of them having a university degree (14%).
Approximately every second Russian (53%) said that the Web had a positive effect on society, while roughly a third (31%) thought of its influence as bad. The majority of frequent Internet users and those who went on the Internet from time to time, considered the influence as positive (76% and 61% respectively). Those not using the Internet referred to its influence as negative more often (55%).
According to the survey, 42% of Russians believe that foreign states are using the Web against Russia and its national interest. Every third Russian (33%) agreed that using the Internet considerably enhanced the risk of suicide. Roughly a fourth of Russians agreed that the Internet was undermining family values (27%) and political stability (24%).
Also, Russian Internet users were asked what kind of arguments would make them support a temporary or total shutdown of the Internet by the government. In principle, such a measure could be supported by 58% of the respondents. The most popular grounds for such support would be national security interests (48%) and the emergence of mass protests (9%). Meanwhile, 42% believe that the government should not shut the Internet down on any grounds or under any kind of circumstances.