Russian leaders propose ban on online swearing


Are proposed anti-swearing laws in Russia aimed to censor or promote civil discourse? (AFP)
Are proposed anti-swearing laws in Russia aimed to censor or promote civil discourse? (AFP)

They swear they’re not joking. A group of Russian leaders wants to ban the use of foul language on all of the country’s social media platforms and online discussion boards, saying that sites that do not comply with the new regulation would be added to a national “blacklist.”

The existing "On the Protection of Children” law already is used to censor some forms of communication. The English language Pravda site reports that State Duma Deputy Yelena Mizulina has put forth a proposal that would require swear words to be removed from a site within 24 hours — or else the site would be added to the country’s blacklist.

While the international community considers the welfare of children in Russia a serious concern, the Human Rights House says the real aim of the existing law is to silence political dissent in the country.

However, the existing laws and the proposed expansion seems to have support within Russia.

“For some, the Internet is a half of their life. So, it's time to initiate and adopt such amendments. I think the idea of Deputy Mizulina is relevant and timely,” said Sergei Smirnov, chairman of the Moscow Regional Bar Association, speaking in support of the proposal.

"Obscene language offends both children and adults. A ban on its use is not an infringement of human rights. This is a direction towards a civilized lifestyle. If we do not use foul language in real life, then why do we use it on the Internet?”

As TechDirt notes, the unintended humorous implication here is that the average Russian citizen does not use profanity in everyday life.

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin used the “protection of children” as justification for new laws restricting the rights of gay and lesbian citizens.

An analysis of the existing law by the Library of Congress concludes that while abuse and neglect of children is a wide-ranging, systemic problem, passage of national laws are unlikely to improve the welfare of Russia’s underage population.

“In spite of the efforts of the international community and Russia’s non-governmental organizations, there is no machinery yet for making Russia a country with a developed legal system and enforceable legislation aimed at the protection of children,” the summary reads. “It all depends on the degree of realization by Russia’s leadership of the gravity of this problem and on its civilized standards for solving it effectively and protecting its underage population.”