Russia could be about to ban Wikipedia in its entirety, as a drugs scare appears to have led to a crackdown on the Russian language version of the encyclopedia.
According to Euronews, a Russian government agency known as Roskomnadzor has ordered Wikipedia to remove a page on Charas, which is a type of cannabis. If this sort of censorship doesn't already seem silly enough, things could get more sinister as according to TheNextWeb, it could lead to Russian ISPs simply imposing a blanket block on all of Wikipedia, rather than the specific 'offending' page, because the technology to block specific HTTPS pages is rather expensive.
Wikipedia, for its part, appears to be rightfully holding firm against demands that the content be taken down - it has since moved the Charas page to another URL to avoid the initial block.
The news also comes just a week after Reddit removed a two year old thread about drugs following Kremlin demands.
So why is Russia so paranoid about drugs? What appears to be behind the moves to further control what Russian people can see on the internet is the increasing paranoia of Vladimir Putin's regime and its precarious "Vertical of Power" that keeps it in charge. Unlike China and its great firewall, Russia initially kept the internet open and unrestricted, though as more Russians have got online the free flow of information has clearly become more problematic for the government. In recent years Russia has passed increasingly draconian laws granting more powers for the authorities to censor and restrict the internet. To some people, drugs might seem like a good reason to have these powers - but once implemented, the same laws and technologies could be used to restrict political content too. [Euronews and TheNextWeb]