Moscow cybercafés’ Internet unsafe for children


The majority of popular Moscow cafés and restaurants are not providing their customers with a filtered Wi-Fi access, making dangerous and illegal content freely accessible by all, including underage users, concludes an inspection carried out yesterday by volunteers from Safe Internet League’s Cyberguard and Bezopasnaya Stolitsa («Safe Capital», a project of Yedinaya Rossija’s Moscow branch).

Under Federal Law no. 436 On the Protection of Children from Information Harmful to their Health and Development public Internet access points like public spaces with free Wi-Fi must use «software and hardware tools to protect children from harmful information». «Harmful information» includes pornography, promotion of illegal drugs and suicide, depictions of violence and cruelty, obscene language, etc. The «tools» to protect from these might include Internet filters that block dangerous content. To check whether a cybercafé is providing safe Internet access, one can use the free online service developed by the Safe Internet League.

A yesterday’s check of 11 Moscow cafés and restaurants (mostly around the Belorusskaya metro station) carried out by the Cyberguard and Yedinaya Rossiya’s Moscow branch with the help of the online service has shown all 11 public places, including the popular Coffee House and Starbucks franchises and some pizza parlours, to provide unrestricted access to illegal and dangerous online materials. The offending establishments’ doors were marked with a special sticker.

«Unfortunately, the result was entirely predictable. Our Cyberguard volunteers are carrying out such checks regularly, and not merely in Moscow. The overwhelming majority of cases suggest café and restaurant owners haven’t given a single thought to how safe the Internet access provided by them is, and often do not realize they’re grossly violating the law» explained Safe Internet League Chairman of the Board Denis Davydov.

«We are going to make inquiries with the police and the Prosecutor General’s Office, ask the media to inform parents of this problem, and also remind the irresponsible entrepreneurs of their legal obligations» said Moscow City Council member and head of Yedinaya Rossiya’s Bezopasnaya Stolitsa initiative Inna Svyatenko, who also took part in the spot check.

The inspection’s organizers said the owners of the businesses in question had given them assurances they would see to having the issue of Internet filtering dealt with. It is to be recalled that under the Administrative Offences Code establishments like these can be punished with a fine of 20 000 to 50 000 Roubles (around $300 to $700 USD).