Russia moves to expand government control of internet

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Russia moves to expand government control of internet
People are silhouetted as they walk along an avenue past an old Orthodox church in the background in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, April 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

MOSCOW (AP) — The lower house of the Russian parliament has passed a second reading of a bill that would expand government authority over the internet but whose opponents fear heralds widespread censorship.

The bill, which passed 322-15, would install equipment to route Russian internet traffic through servers in the country. That would increase the powers of state agencies and make it harder for users to circumvent any government restrictions.

The proposed move sparked protests of several thousand people in Moscow last month. Opponents argue it would allow the state to control the flow of information and enforce blocks on messaging applications which refuse to hand over data.

Advocates say the bill is intended to address concerns that Russia could be cut off if the United States engages in a cybersecurity offensive.