An appeals court in Russia has overturned a regional court ruling that allowed the Tor Project website to be blocked in the country. Due to violations in the original proceedings, the case was returned to the trial court for further consideration.
Roskomsvoboda helps unblock Tor Project website in Russia
Procedural violations, primarily failure to summon the owner, led to the reversal of the regional court’s decision to block torproject.org, Roskomsvoboda reported this week. Lawyers from the non-governmental organization working to protect the rights of Internet users in Russia played a role in the case, which was referred to the Saratov region trial court.
The Tor project website was blocked in December last year based on a decision of the Saratov district court of December 18, 2017. The hearing in the appeal court, held online, was followed by Ekaterina Abashina from Roskomsvoboda’s legal team. Since the district court’s decision was overturned, torproject.org should be unblocked, she said.
Abashina explained that the defense had two main arguments to challenge the initial decision. First of all, the absence of a representative of the platform at the hearings affected the rights and obligations of the owner. Second, Russian law does not currently prohibit the dissemination of information related to VPN technologies and anonymizers.
The prosecutor did not file a written response to the lawyers’ complaint but only made a verbal objection. Roskomnadzor, the Russian media watchdog that blocked the website, filed a written response saying the court had unlimited powers to recognize any information as prohibited, Abashina detailed. The legal expert told Forklog that Russian authorities wanted to restrict access to the website due to published instructions on how to download the privacy-focused Tor browser.
Ekaterina Abashina expects the new proceedings to begin within a month and hopes that the trial court will consider Roskomsvoboda’s second point, which is that the dissemination of information about technologies such as Tor is not prohibited in the Russian Federation, and will also attempt to summon the relevant website. owner as required by law.
Sites disseminating useful information and providing services to the crypto community have been targeted by Russian authorities over the past few years. Last June, a court in the Russian region of Perm decided to block a number of platforms describing how to exchange cryptocurrency for fiat money. In December, Roskomnadzor took action to restrict access to six VPN providers to help Russians access “banned” information. Some operators have successfully challenged these measures in Russian courts.
What do you think of the case of the blocking of the Tor project website in Russia? Tell us in the comments section below.
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