Snowden calls proposed Russian antiterror measures 'Big Brother law'

New legislation calls for service providers to store metadata for up to six months, and expressing pro-terror sentiments online could get you jailed for up to seven years.

Daniel Van Boom
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Internet freedom is in your hands, Vladimir Putin.

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Russia's lower house of parliament on Friday passed a set of measures intended to crack down on terrorism in the country. Some, like Edward Snowden, have said the proposed laws are at odds with the personal freedom of Russian citizens.

The set of legislation is dubbed "Yarovaya law," the Guardian reported. It stipulates that any pro-terrorism sentiment espoused on the internet can be punished with up to seven years in prison. Service providers will now also be urged to store records of all communication for six months and metadata for three years, the publication reports.

Edward Snowden, who has found refuge in Russia since 2013 after whistle-blowing on the US government for its surveillance activities, called the new measures "Big Brother Law" in a tweet, adding that they represent an "unworkable, unjustifiable violation of rights that should never be signed."

Storing six months of content "is not just dangerous, it's impractical," he tweeted. "Mass surveillance doesn't work. This bill will take money and liberty from every Russian without improving safety. It should not be signed."

The proposed law comes as countries grapple with how to find a balance online between free speech and extremist activities. In May, the European Union established a code of conduct -- signed onto by Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and YouTube -- that takes aim at illegal hate speech and terrorist propaganda posted online.

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The Yarovaya law also would raise the potential jail time for extremism from four to eight years. This is a charge often brought to social media users and bloggers, as in the recent case of Anton Nosik, who was accused of inciting hatred because of a post criticizing Syria, an ally of Russia.

The legislation still needs to be approved by Russia's upper house and by president Vladimir Putin, both of which actions are said to be near certainties, according to the publication.