April 6, 2021. Below are the results of a survey on the Russian perceptions of the Internet and possible Internet censorship.
More than half of Russians consider that censorship can be applied depending on the type of information being disseminated (60%). Eleven percent of respondents think that disseminating the information on the Internet should be free. A quarter of respondents consider that any information disseminated online should be censored (26%), which is 20 p.p. less than in 2014.
What kind of information should be restricted on the Internet?
An overwhelming majority of Russians consider that any information related to weapons, explosives and manufacturing improvised firearms should be restricted (91%). The same percentage thinks that restrictions should be imposed on the information referring to calls to join radical or extremist organizations or movements (91%).
Calls to join religious sects and suicide-related information should also be restricted (89% and 88%, respectively). Most of respondents would censor sexually explicit materials (84%, −6 p.p. since 2012), and violence, aggression and cruelty in video/computer games (82%, −9 p.p. since 2012).
Three-quarters of Russians (73-74%) believe that access to texts and videos containing strong language and information about “MMM-type financial companies should be restricted.
Most of Russians agree that it is important to combat such information on the Internet in order to reduce threats to the public (78%, −9 p.p.). Fourteen percent of respondents think the government should not combat this type of information on the Internet.
Almost half of Russians could not express their opinions on the current state and non-state policies aimed at combatting the spread of negative information over the Internet (44%, +15 p.p. since 2012). One-third of respondents consider it ineffective (32%, −20 p.p. since 2012); 19% point out its effectiveness.
Attitudes towards censorship
Sixty-five percent of respondents do not perceive Internet regulation as an infringement on their personal freedom. They are opposed by 30% of respondents.
Three-quarters of Russians using the Internet say that it is unlikely that demonstrations in their cities against tightening control over Internet will occur (74%, −10 p.p. since 2014). Seventeen percent of Russians oppose this stance. An overwhelming majority of respondents are not willing to take part in mass protests against tightening control over Internet (87%).
Russian nationwide VCIOM-Sputnik survey was conducted on March 7, 2021. A total of 1,600 of Russians aged 18 and older took part in the survey. Results are based on telephone interviews. Stratified dual-frame random sample based on a complete list of Russian landline and mobile phone numbers was used. The data were weighted according to selection probability and social and demographic characteristics. The margin of error at a 95% confidence level does not exceed 2.5%. In addition to sampling error, minor changes to the wording of questions and different circumstances arising during the fieldwork can introduce bias into the survey.
|The Internet is full of different kinds of information. In your opinion, should any kind of information be disseminated freely, with no restrictions across the Internet, or should there be regulations (for example, state regulation)? (closed-ended question, one answer, % of total respondents)|
|Information should be disseminated freely and without censorship across the Internet||10||11|
|Information disseminated online needs regulation (censorship)||46||26|
|It depends on the type of information being disseminated||37||60|
|In your opinion, should the user’s access to the following information be restricted or available without restrictions? (closed-ended question, one answer, % of total respondents)|
|Texts and videos containing strong language|
|Financial non-state (joint-stock) “MMM”-type companies|
|Sexually explicit content|
|Calls to join religious sects|
|Calls to join radical, extremist organizations and movements|
|Scenes of aggression, violence and cruelty (videos, computer games, clips, etc.)|
|Information about weapons, explosives and manufacturing of improvised firearms|
|Which statement are you more likely to agree with? (closed-ended question, one answer, % of total respondents)|
|No point in combatting this type of online content; it is useless because the Internet is uncontrollable. Experienced IT engineers (hackers) can easily bypass any barriers||10||14|
|Combatting this type of online information is important, because reducing the amount of this information may decrease the threat coming from the spread of this information||87||78|
|In your opinion, are the current state and non-state policies aiming to combat the spread of this information across the Internet effective, i.e. are they sufficient to change the situation for the better – to reduce the amount of this information, to make it less available to the public, or ineffective? (closed-ended question, one answer, % of total respondents)|
|Likely to be effective||13||19|
|Likely to be ineffective||52||32|
|I know nothing about it; I cannot assess it||29||44|
|Do you agree or disagree with the statement “Internet regulation infringes upon my personal freedom”? (closed-ended question, one answer, % of Internet users)|
|Likely to agree||29||17|
|Likely to disagree||40||39|
|In your opinion, are protests and demonstrations against tightening the control over the Internet (website shutdown, mandatory login to access websites, etc.) possible in your area (city/rural area) today? (closed-ended question, one answer, % of Internet users)|
|If mass protests against tightening the control over the Internet take place, will you personally take part in them, or not? (closed-ended question, one answer, % of Internet users)|
|Likely to take part||8||11|
|Unlikely to take part||87||87|