U.S. tightening Internet censorship - Russian Foreign Ministry report

The U.S. is tightening Internet censorship, says a 63-page report of the Russian Foreign Ministry, "On Human Rights in the United States."

"The U.S. Government, private companies and organizations are tightening censorship of Internet communication," the report said.

Such regulation circumvents the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the ministry noted.

The Children Internet Protection Act (CIPA) was adopted in 2000 to make web filters and other ways of Internet content censorship a mandatory condition for federal discounts on telecom and Internet services rendered to schools and libraries, the ministry said.

Instead of censoring the Internet directly, the U.S. Administration puts indirect pressure on companies responsible for Internet content, it said.

"They are pushed to remove 'unwelcome' information from websites under the threat of prosecution," the report said.

The ministry referred to the latest Google report, which said the number of U.S. authorities' requests for removal of particular Internet content had grown by 103 percent year-on-year in July-December 2011.

"U.S. law enforcers appealed for removal of 1,400 'insulting' videos from the YouTube video hosting. There were 6,300 appeals for disclosure of data of more than 12,200 users. Some 93 percent of such appeals were met," the ministry said.

"In the opinion of human rights defenders, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) the Congress is hearing will make practically unlimited the ability of the U.S. Government to monitor Internet browsing by individuals," it said.

"Internet users and human rights defenders are also concerned over the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) the Congress is hearing. Some human rights defenders believe that these legislative initiatives will violate the freedom of speech and will actually lead to Internet censorship," the ministry said.

The Americans who express online their views differing from the traditional ideology run the risk of ostracism or even the loss of their jobs, the ministry said.

The ministry also noted that the United States was actively using the Internet as an instrument of propaganda.

"The U.S. Central Command has concluded an agreement with California-based corporation Ntrepid to develop software, which will assist manipulation of social network debates abroad, primarily in the Middle East and Central Asia. Imaginary Internet users will spread pro-American propaganda and block undesirable comments," the report said.

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