The Russian Court of Appeals overturned the decision of a district court that approved the blocking of the Tor Project website in this country. Due to irregularities in the original proceedings, the case was returned to the court of first instance for reconsideration.
Roskomsvoboda is cooperating to overturn the blocking of Tor project websites in Russia
This week, Roskomsvoboda announced that it was overturning a district court decision to block torproject.org, primarily due to procedural violations related to the owner not being subpoenaed. Lawyers from nongovernmental organizations working to protect the rights of Internet users in Russia played a role in the case, which was returned to the Saratov Regional Court of First Instance.
The Tor Project website was blocked last December based on the decision of the Saratov District Court of December 18, 2017. Ekaterina Abashina from RoskomSvoboda’s legal group was present at the appeal hearing, which was held online. She stated that since the district court’s decision had been overturned, torproject.org should be unblocked.
Ms. Abashina explained that the defense had two main arguments to challenge the original ruling. First, the absence of representatives of the platform at the hearing affected the rights and obligations of the owners. In addition, Russian law does not currently prohibit the distribution of VPN technology or information related to anonymizers.
The prosecutor did not provide a written response to the lawyer’s complaint, only a verbal rebuttal. RoskomnadzorRoskomnadzor, the Russian media oversight body that blocked the site, filed a written response, arguing that the court has unlimited authority to find any information banned, Abashina said. A legal expert told Forklog that Russian authorities want to restrict access to websites because they published instructions on how to download the privacy-oriented Tor browser.
Ekaterina Abashina expects a new trial to begin within a month, and hopes that the trial court will consider Roskomsvoboda’s second point that the dissemination of information about technology such as Tor is not prohibited in the Russian Federation, and that the law requires
they want to try to subpoena the owners of the affected sites, as required by law.
Websites that distribute useful information and serve the cryptocurrency community have been targeted by Russian authorities in the past few years. Last June, the court of the Perm region decided to block several platforms explaining how to exchange cryptocurrency for fiat currency; in December, Roskomnadzor was accused of VPN providers helping Russians gain access to “banned” information6. The company took measures to restrict access to the company. Some operators successfully challenged these measures in Russian courts.
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