HOUSTON, TX / ACCESSED / January 23, 2023 / Attorney Paul Sternberg, an Internet Defamation Lawyer from Houston Texas, states that Russia has taken steps to cut itself off from the global internet. President Vladimir Putin has signed a law that requires all computers, smartphones and smart TVs sold in Russia to be preloaded with applications from Russian developers. The Russian government has invested the equivalent of $32 million in a Russian Wikipedia alternative. These changes together with the isolationist infrastructure suggest the desire for more control over the Russian people and disconnection from the rest of the world. Although Russia is not completely cut off, the partial censorship and current laws show that it is heading in that direction.
Attorney Sternberg explains that in China their firewall gives the government almost total control over the internet. The Chinese-dominated internet is completely different from the one used by the rest of the globe. Users in China are blocked from many of the apps and websites used in the US or other countries. A virtual private network (VPN) would be needed to access Google, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. A Chinese phone can’t even download common western apps. A VPN should be installed on a US phone outside of China before entering the country.
Paul Sternberg reports that there are strict ID regulations in China and some apps require a selfie holding a passport next to your face along with the passport image to be submitted to the app. It’s like going through customs to use their internet. Everything is stored on your device, linked to your face, location, bank account and ID. There is another way for the government to track people, besides cameras and facial recognition software.
Attorney Sternberg states that Germany’s Net Enforcement Act, NetzGD, requires social media companies to remove content that violates one of twenty restrictions on hateful and defamatory speech in the German Penal Code with millions of euros in fines at stake. Austria is also considering a law inspired by NetzDG, which would further encourage compliance by prohibiting businesses that advertise on those platforms from paying what is owed if they do not operate within the law.
In Pakistan, there was a law passed in 2016 that gave the government the power to censor online content and criminalize hate speech and defamation. It was part of a plan to fight terrorism in response to an attack on a school that killed more than 130 children.
Attorney Sternberg explains that the implementation was supposed to help defend the country against threats to national security and cybercrime, but the broadly defined provisions meant it could be used to limit online expression and voices that were critical of the government. Since the passage of PECA (Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act) it has been used against journalists and women who have come forward with allegations of sexual harassment online. There were libel charges brought against them. The US State Department’s 2021 human rights report concluded that it had given the government in Pakistan sweeping powers to censor content on the internet, which had been used by authorities to slow down civil society.
Attorney Paul Sternberg claims that if the United States were to follow in the footsteps of these countries when it comes to internet censorship, it could set off a domino effect of restrictions on digital speech around the world. If America stops fighting for free speech online, then the rest of the world might follow.
THIS ARTICLE SHOULD NOT BE RELIED UPON AS LEGAL ADVICE.
Attorney Paul Sternberg, of Houston, Texas, states and declares that the above text is not offered as legal advice, but is provided as general information. The information contained within may not be appropriate for all individuals or situations. No attorney-client relationship is created or implied by the provision of this information, nor does the foregoing make any warranties, expressed or implied, of any kind. To discuss a particular situation in more detail, please contact attorney Paul Sternberg for a consultation by calling 713-392-4322.
SOURCE: Sternberg Law Firm