Russia tries to ban Wikipedia in latest internet crackdown

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Russia is trying to entirely block Wikipedia, in its latest crackdown on the internet.

The Russian government recently bolstered its watchdog’s powers to censor the internet – and over the past year a number of blocks have been placed on ‘dissenting’ groups.

Russia’s main support group for teenagers who identify as LGBT, Children-404, was quietly blocked by authorities on Russian social media site VKontakte in April.

Now Russia is coming under even more fire for clamping down on freedom of speech – after plans emerged to block the entirety of internet encyclopaedia Wikipedia, purportedly over one drugs-related article.

The country says it was trying to block an article on charas – a hashish form of cannabis which is handmade in India, and which is not commonly made in Russia.

However, because the site employs a secure HTTPS protocol, the Russian government does not have the technology to block individual pages.

Due to this, and the unwillingness of the site’s owners the Wikimedia Foundation to help Russia censor the internet, the country instead plans to block the entirety of Wikipedia.

A statement said: “Every year the Wikimedia Foundation receives requests from governments, individuals, and companies to take down or alter Wikipedia content.

“We grant few to none, complying only when legally required under US law, as the Wikimedia Foundation subject to US jurisdiction.

“When content is not illegal under US law, the volunteer editors who maintain Wikipedia generally retain editorial discretion.”

It adds: “With more than one million articles and a billion page views per month, Russian Wikipedia is a rich and valuable source of neutral, reliable information.

“Russian Wikipedia is built for Russian speakers by Russian speakers, and features rich resources about Russian history, culture, and geography.

“If it goes ahead, the block will result in millions of people in Russia losing access to free knowledge about the world around them.”