By Mark O’Neill
Russia is a country that I love but it is also a country that fills me with despair. While it is rich with history, culture and wonderful people, it also can’t decide whether it wants to be free or whether it likes to be stamped on by a dictator’s foot.
It seems that the latest directive from the “Mass Media, Communications and Cultural Protection Service” (I’ll spare you the Russian name of the department) has declared that all internet wireless devices owned by private citizens have to be registered with the Russian government before that citizen goes online. Obviously the decree is aimed at monitoring people’s internet activities and it smacks of old-fashioned state control, just like in the good old Soviet days. Which makes it even more laughable when Russia under the leadership of the Putin Corporation declares that it is now a democracy.
I can’t seem to find out the punishment for not obeying the rules but I can say with all certainty that the ultimate punishment of the old days is long gone (at least I certainly hope so). If you fail to register your wi-fi device, you’ll probably just get slapped on the wrist with a fine or maybe even get your device confiscated. But even so, this is a shocking dictatorial move on the part of the Russian authorities. Plus can you imagine the sheer amount of paperwork involved in such a bureaucratic move? How many people in Russia have wi-fi devices today? Millions! Probably more.
This got me to thinking – if the Soviet Union was still around today, how would it deal with the Internet? Would the KGB simply shut down the web in Russia? Or would they simply do what China is currently doing and institute a stringent filtering system? What do you think?