A controversial new Russian media law could be used to block YouTube in the country over postings of the anti-Islam film that has sparked deadly rioting, the communications minister warned Tuesday.
“It sounds like a joke, but because of this video… all of YouTube could be blocked throughout Russia,” minister Nikolai Nikiforov wrote on Twitter.
He pointed to sections of the law, which goes into effect on November 1 and is designed to protect minors from extremist and other dangerous material, allowing the government to block an entire site over the content of a single page.
The Internet law has prompted protests from Russia’s top search engine Yandex, which ran a black “censorship” ribbon on its front page, and Russian-language Wikipedia, which closed down for the day, as lawmakers debated the measure.
Nikiforov, the youngest in the cabinet at 30, initially criticised the bill. But he said that he later backed amendments cutting the list of reasons for which a website could be banned, after pressure from Internet companies.
Russia’s federal prosecutors said Monday they would ask a court to include the film the “Innocence of Muslims” on a list of extremist materials, after a senator called for the movie to be banned.
A court decision is sufficient to add materials to Russia’s list of banned extremist materials, which includes Islamic and Christian texts.
The government media watchdog said Monday it was “strongly recommending” Internet operators block access to the film ahead of a court decision.
The initially obscure film, believed to have been produced by a small group of extremist Christians in the US, has sparked a week of deadly protests across the Muslim world.
Those killed include the US envoy and three consulate staff workers in Libya. On Tuesday 12 people, mostly foreigners, died when a female suicide bomber blew up her station wagon in Kabul as it pulled up alongside a minivan carrying foreign workers.