A Russian court of appeals has overturned a decision by a regional court that allowed blocking of Tor Project’s website within the country. The case was remanded to the court of first instance to be reviewed again due to violations in the initial proceedings.
Roskomsvoboda Helps to Cancel the Blocking Of Tor Project’s Russian Website
Roskomsvoboda announced that procedural violations, including the failure to summon an owner, led to Roskomsvoboda cancelling the decision of the regional court to block torproject.org. In the case, the lawyers from the non-governmental organization that protects the rights of internet users in Russia were involved. It was remanded to the Saratov region’s first instance court.
On the basis of a Dec. 18, 2017 decision by the Saratov District Court, the Tor Project’s website was reblocked in December 2017. Ekaterina Abashina, Roskomsvoboda’s legal team, attended the online hearing of the appellate court. She stated that torproject.org should not be blocked since the decision of the district court was canceled.
Abashina stated that there were two main arguments by the defense to contest the original decision. The first was that the rights and obligations for the owner were affected by the inability to present a representative from the platform at hearings. Russian law doesn’t currently prohibit the disclosure of information about VPN technologies or anonymizers.
The prosecutor did not respond in writing to the lawyers’ complaints, but only made a verbal objection. Roskomnadzor was Russia’s media watchdog that had blocked the site. The prosecutor did not file a written reply, but stated that the court had the power to recognize any information as prohibited. Abashina elaborated. Forklog was told by a legal expert that Russian authorities wanted to restrict access to the site because of published instructions on how you can download the privacy-oriented Tor browser.
Ekaterina Abashina anticipates that the new proceedings will begin within a month. She also hopes that the court in first instance will consider Roskomsvoboda’s second point, that information such as Tor can be spread across the Russian Federation. It also attempts to summon the owner of the website, as required by law.
Russian authorities have targeted sites that provide services and information to the crypto community. A court in Russia’s Perm area ruled last June that a number platforms explaining how to exchange cryptocurrency for fiat money were blocked. Roskomnadzor made steps to limit access to six VPN service providers in December to help Russians gain “banned” information. These measures have been successfully challenged by some operators in Russian courts.