Russia moves to block Wikipedia, HTTPs stands in the way

Internet service providers in Russia were ordered to block access to Wikipedia but efforts have been thwarted by HTTPs.
Internet service providers in Russia were ordered to block access to Wikipedia but efforts have been thwarted by HTTPs.

While internet service providers in Russia were ordered Aug. 24 to block access to the entirety of the Russian-language version of Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia has been unable to fully comply because HTTPs, which encrypts traffic between websites and users, prevented Russian ISPs from blocking only a specific page.

Roskomnadzor, the Russian federal body that oversees media, had objected to an article that detailed how to prepare Charas, a form of hashish, and order access blocked.

Wiki attempted to comply with the order by moving the article to an archive site, but the federal authorities were not appeased as it remained accessible. The technology Russia employs for internet surveillance is thwarted by the more secure HTTPs protocol.

Authorities – pointing to a court order in June making it illegal to publish the article as it offered instructions on how to manufacture drugs – ordered the entirety of the site blocked.

Wikipedia.ru vowed to appeal the decision, but the matter seemed settled by the next day when Roskomnadzo removed Wikipedia from its block list. The agency stated that owing to a number of edits, the article was no longer in violation of Russian law. 

However, the government crackdown was widely perceived as an escalation of censorship – moving from previous blocking solely of news sites critical of President Vladimir Putin's regime to a global site used by ordinary Russians.

Hundreds of websites have been blocked since late 2013 when the Putin administration passed legislation allowing the prosecutor-general to shutter websites without court orders.

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