The Russian government is aiming its cyber crosshairs at Wikipedia, ordering the country’s ISPs to block the widely read Internet encyclopaedia.
Roskomnadzor, the country’s Internet watchdog, made the call after Wikipedia refused to alter a page that was perceived to give instructions on using a form of cannabis.
“Censorship of Wikipedia content runs contrary to the Wikimedia vision: a world in which everyone can freely access the sum of all knowledge,” Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organisation that runs Wikipedia, told TechCrunch.
The Wikipedia article in question is about charas, a handmade hashish form of cannabis. It contains details that are considered a little too instructional for the Roskomnadzor’s comfort.
“We first learned about a possible block last week,” Wikimedia said. “The notice stated that the article contained information on how to prepare the substance. The notice directed Wikipedia to remove the article.”
It’s not the first case of cyber censorship from Roskomnadzor this month. Two weeks ago it banned Reddit for a day after discovering a two-year-old post about growing psilocybin, aka magic mushrooms.
That ban was repealed after roughly 24 hours following Reddit administrators appealing to the agency, but it appears as though Wikipedia won’t be as cooperative.
Both Reddit and Wikipedia use HTTPS, a more secure Internet protocol that requires ISPs to have specific equipment to block one specific page on the site. Most Russian ISPs lack this equipment, according to the Washington Post, so the entire site will be unavailable to users of ISPs who comply with the government agency.
Wikipedia is available in over 280 languages. The Russian site is one of only 12 around the world with over 1 million articles.