Bid to block 170 sex-ad websites won by Safe Internet League and Prosecutor General’s Office


170 websites advertising adult-only services made it onto the official Russian Internet Blacklist from August 2014 to January 2015. The decision came though a court ruling in a case jointly brought forward by the Safe Internet League and the Prosecutor General’s Office.

It will be remembered that last summer the Safe Internet League compiled a list of websites advertising adult-only services and went to court to have them blacklisted. «In Russia, all aspects of prostitution are illegal: recruiting into prostitution is a criminal offence, prostitution itself is a civil offence. Advertising prostitutes’ services is likewise illegal. So is distribution of pornography, and most of these websites were hosting photos of pornographic nature. So there was illegality all over the place» explained Safe Internet League CEO Denis Davydov. However, the League’s case was dropped, as under Russian law, when dealing with the rights of an indefinite number of people, a case cannot be brought forward by a public organization. The League approached the Prosecutor General’s Office, which instructed prosecutors in the websites’ regions to investigate the matter and take the appropriate measures. The prosecutors then studied the materials provided by the League and asked the local courts to judge the offending materials illegal under Russian law. As a result, in 170 cases the courts ruled that the websites must be put onto the official Russian Internet Blacklist, while at the same time initiating several hundred administrative and a number of criminal proceedings. 

«Undoubtedly, we have much to be proud of. We managed to block some of the largest websites that advertised adult-only services, each of them with 700 000 visitors per day. Now they’re on the Blacklist. But the problem is that many of these kinds of websites started migrating onto so-called anonymous networks, like Tor. This is but another proof that criminals are actively using the Darknet for committing offences and distributing illegal information. Until we limit the activities of such networks in Russia, we will be unable to fully solve the problem of online prostitution and pimping».