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Intel Shuts Down Its Developer Forum To Comply With Russia’s Blogger Law

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

Technology giant Intel is the latest high-profile casualty of Russia’s “Blogger Law”. As per recent media reports, the company has decided to shut down its Russian language developer forum as well as delete a vast majority of content that was published in the Russian language. Intel is not the only company that has had to change its policies a result of the new law; several tech giants as well as multinational companies have also been forced to modify their business practices to comply with the newly introduced regulation.

What Is Russia’s Blogger Law?

Blogger Law, which was introduced last year, is the latest attempt from the Russian government to tighten their grip on the internet. The law is applicable on sites that are in Russian language, host content within Russia and get more than 3,000 visitors per day. As per the law, all such sites and service providers need to register themselves with the country’s regulator Roskomnadzor and henceforth they would be subjected to greater scrutiny and monitoring that was previously reserved only for the websites of professional journalists. Web service providers violating the law face huge fines which can go high as 500,000 rubles.

Intel confirmed that it had shut down its Russian developer forum, deleted comments made in Russian as well as disabled the functionality that allowed bloggers to publish blog posts in the Russian language. The company also made it clear that people can continue to publish new blog posts but they can only so do in English on its international website. The company further added that it has started to redirect traffic from Russian Intel Developer Zone to a third party Russian tech site (Habrhabr) or to its own forums that are hosted outside the country. However, the company was also quick to add that a large portion of the content published on Intel Developer Zone remains unaffected by the recent changes. In addition, other Russian Intel platforms including the company’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ accounts; the company’s blog on Habrahabr.ru; its developer groups on Vkontakte.ru and Google+ as well as its communities for IT-professionals and educators would continue to function as usual.

The issue once again highlights the pervasive surveillance which is prevalent in Russia and how the authorities are curbing free speech on the internet. After the Blogger law was introduced, the Russian authorities have been asking U.S. tech giants like Twitter, Facebook and Google to ensue compliance with the new regulation but these companies have resisted such demands so far. While tech sites like Intel Developer Forums pose no threat to the Russian authorities directly, they can be used as a platform post anti-government messages. This was demonstrated last year when tech site Github was blocked in the country after a user posted a software code that appeared to mock Russian laws. Intel does not want to want to take any such chances so it has decided to do away with its forums as well as disable functionality which allowed Russian users to publish blogs and comments in their native language.

February 3, 2015

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