Member of the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg Vitaly Milonov, known for his numerous controversial pieces of legislation including the ‘anti-gay propaganda bill,’ is looking to increase state control over social networks. According to the politician, the social networks “are breeding vileness, filth, and non-conventional relations.” Vitaly Milinov sat down to speak Digital Report about a variety of moral issues facing Russia in the tech sphere including the new Apple iOS, problems with social networks, and the government’s role in enforcing morality.
Is Apple OS sneaking LGBT propaganda into Russia?
Last week Milonov demanded the government block iOS 8.3, the new Apple operating system, because it contains new emoticons depicting same-gender couples and families. The politician drafted a complaint to Russian Media Watchdog Roskomnadzor (The Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media) and the Attorney’s Office against the LGBT propaganda.
The contents of this operating system may not be allowed for free access and use. These emoticons are content for adults. Taking into account that there is no age restrictions for use of phones, we must decide whether or not to block this content on the territory of the Russian Federation or to require the producer to modify the product for the Russian market in order to comply with the Russian Law. Right now, this is not happening.
Moreover, if Apple continues to skirt Russian law, Milonov believes that Roskomnadzor should completely block iTunes in Russia. Milonov believes there should not be any technical issues to accomplishing what he is looking for.
All iOS intended for use in Russia should be automatically updated for the version with Russian patch. Apple produces a special version for China, they can do the same for us as well.
Milonov believes the new iOS violates the Law On Protection of Children from Information Harmful to Their Health and Evolution as long as minors are using iPhones. Milonov, however, presents an alternative; the new iOS could be branded 18+ sold only in stores for adults.
How free should the Internet community be?
To Milonov, the Apple OS is just one of many cases. Generally speaking, the politician feels there are significant problems in the online community.
Any of those opposition bloggers can drink a few beers and post dozens of posts every night. I struggle with the fact that people often send in complaints about me and I have to respond them. However, they do this anonymously, they just send those complaints by email. The role of the Internet community, which appeared out of nowhere in 2009, must be restricted. It is simply impossible to respond to each tweet, even considering it is ridiculous.
Another big problem is our backwardness regarding a part of social networks. Senator Dobrynin, as usual, speaks against control over social networks. However, I think there has to be an element of control because the most popular Russian networks contain public groups have so much vileness and filth… For example, in a group dedicated to wholly to booze more than 2,000 members are younger than 16. Moreover, this group exists without any problems.
The politician is quite blunt speaking about the initiators of such groups:
These scumbags walk our streets, surf the Net, and lead our poor children astray, God, or better yet, the Devil knows through what. And later they will say: ‘You see, the school is to blame for all that!’ There is another terrible fact about the social networks: we must not let adult men exchange their erotic fantasies with 16-year old girls.
What is the government’s role in controlling and monitoring the online world?
Milonov feels that the government needs to exert greater control in the online world. To this extent, there needs to be not only better responsiveness to the needs of informed members of society, as well as the creation of government departments that can act on this information immediately.
We have Government protection out on the streets, but yet not on the Internet. I, a Member of the Legislative Assembly, write VKontakte and some low-level manager, some pimply dude, responds that they have the right to their opinion. But I do not give a damn about the opinion of this VKontakte middle manager because there is violation of the law. And what happens here is that some admin is higher than the law itself. We must have instant blocking, instant! If someone creates a disgusting public group it should be banned immediately.
To this extent, Roskomnadzor performs some functions which are external to the organization as a purely technical public office. They should not make any judgements themselves; it should be other government departments who determine whether or not content is appropriate. I made a proposal in St. Petersburg: as soon as we see an sign or advertisement that says, say, “Girls Round the Clock’, we should make an official phone call by a commission. ‘Hey there, you got any girls? – Yeah, we do. Come on by.’ But instead of going there we would blacklist the phone number. That’s it, the crooks would lose the number. Take away an opportunity to communicate with clients, let them lose their client base.
The legislator also says that malicious search requests should also be blocked to limit people’s ability to view illegal content.
If you type in ‘child porn’ into a browser, all you will see is an article from the Criminal Code article. That’s it, nothing more.
Digital Report would like to thank Deputy Milonov for his time.