The Russian government just banned Wikipedia [UPDATE]

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A Russian agency responsible for internet oversight has effectively banned Wikipedia in the country, based on the urging of a court.

Roskomnadzor, the body responsible for oversight and regulation of the internet in Russia, has banned Russian-language Wikipedia over an article on charas, a type of hashish. The ban follows a court order.

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UPDATE: Roskomnadzor has reversed the ban after just a day. Read our followup here.

“[We have] sent telecom operators the index page of the Russian-language Wikipedia for blocking,” Roskomnadzor said in a statement reported on by the Financial Times. “[It] contains forbidden information about narcotic substances.”

The blacklisting of the site follows threats made by Roskomnadzor last week to ban the online encyclopedia. Since Wikipedia uses HTTPS to ensure secure communication, the Russian regulator explained on a post on the Russian social network VK, it would be banning the entire site, not just the offending article.

Over the weekend Wikipedia editors tried to meet technical requirements made by the court order, according to Meduza.io, but their work failed to satisfy Roskomnadzor. Even if they had, the order is really icing on the cake, FT explains, because of 2013 legislation allowing authorities to block websites without a court order.

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This isn’t the first time Russian authorities have blocked websites over information about drug use. Earlier this month Reddit was temporarily banned over a post about psilocybin mushrooms, and in 2013 parts of Russian-language Wikipedia were placed on an official blacklist over an article on “Smoking Cannabis.”

Ethan Chiel is a reporter for Fusion, writing mostly about the internet and technology. You can (and should) email him at ethan.chiel@fusion.net

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