Monday, April 10, 2006

Growth of the Russian Internet

BBC NEWS | Europe | News fuels Russian internet boom

Good news ... use of the internet is growing in Russia. This makes us almost cutting edge ...
At 16.5% of the population, Russia's web community is still small compared to the European Union, where the average is nearly 50%, and about 30% in newer member-states from the east, such as Hungary and Poland.

Yet the community's expansion in recent years has exceeded forecasts.

"It used to be true for any Russian site that approximately 40% of the audience would be from inside Russia and 60% from abroad," says Dmitry Shishkin, a senior producer at BBCRussian.com.

"In the last five or so years we noticed a growing domestic audience, particularly in Russia itself and among Russian speakers in the other ex-Soviet states."

Usage remains highest in Moscow and Central Russia but improving telecommunications mean that 12% of Siberians, for example, are now users.
Of course, we are talking about Russia, so many people seem to be waiting for some sort of limitations to be placed upon internet use, and the information that can be accessed. After all, what good is it to control the TV News when an increasing number of citizens can access differing opinions from their computers?

Perhaps disappointingly to some, thus far the Russian government has shown very little interest in restricting what can be accessed by the internet.
Reports that Russia's parliament, the State Duma, was looking at legislation covering internet content rang alarm bells in some quarters this year.

The Kremlin, some speculated, was looking to extend its control over Runet, having tamed television and all but a few of the major newspapers and radio stations.

The actual legislation, prompted by an attack on a Moscow synagogue by a knifeman who apparently visited anti-Semitic internet sites, is aimed at specifically combating extremism - or "fascism, nationalism and the incitement of inter-ethnic and religious strife".

Various Russian MPs have attacked the internet, one famously describing it as a "cesspool", but there does not yet seem to be any serious attempt to exert state control online.

"Of course, you hear speeches about clamping down on the internet, just as extreme views exist everywhere, but there is no major legislation in the offing," one Duma official involved in drafting the new legislation told the BBC News website.

"The idea of using a global filter like China's 'Great Firewall' is not being debated because it is not in the spirit of current policy - it would not get through, it's unreal."
Internet Use Worldwide
  • Worldwide: 12.8%
  • USA: 68.1%
  • UK: 62.9%
  • EU: 49.8%
  • Russia: 16.5%
  • Ukraine: 11.4%
  • China: 8.5%
  • Uzbekistan: 3.3%
source: World Internet Stats 2005

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