Putin's Ominous Internet Law Puts A Target On Critics

Lauren Burgoon
Russia's social media crackdown could spell the end of sites like Facebook and Twitter there.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's sinister movement to control Russians took a big leap forward -- or backward, for anyone who believes in personal freedom -- with a new law signed this week. 

Putin signed a law forcing Internet companies, including popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, to store Russians' personal Web activity in data centers. Any site without a data center in Russia must establish one. 

Authorities then have access to that data, exposing any Russian citizen outspoken again Putin's government to repercussions. 

The Russian government says the move defends their countrymen from hackers. Let's call a spade a spade -- Putin in particular has no tolerance for dissent. (See: Pussy Riot.) This move makes censorship much easier and has an absolute chilling effect on criticism.

It also extends beyond harassing Russians who make fun of shirtless Putin pics. The law extends to travel sites, for example, allowing the government to track Russians' movements. 

This is only the latest in Putin's moves to crack down on dissenters. Some bloggers won't be allowed to remain anonymous soon, for instance.

As any totalitarian knows, the easiest ways to tamp dissent are to make it impossible for others to hear the criticism and instill fear in anyone who would consider pressing the issue. With this latest move, it's not beyond comprehension that Putin is on his way to banning sites like Facebook and Twitter to exert even more control over Russians.