Intel Shuts Down Its Russian-Language Developer Forums

Images edited by Kevin Rothrock.

Images edited by Kevin Rothrock.

The American technology company Intel has shut down its popular Russian-language developer forums, abruptly extinguishing Russian-language blogging and commenting on its platform. Russian developers are still welcome on Intel's English-language forums, which are hosted abroad and on third-party websites (like the Russian online tech community Habrahabr). Intel says it has no plans, however, to close its Russian-language communities at Intel Education Galaxy and Intel IT Galaxy.

Why has Intel, one of the world's largest makers of semiconductor chips, microprocessors, and other computer hardware, moved against its Russian-language developer forum?

According to reports, Intel is shielding itself from noncompliance with Russia's controversial blogger law, which entered into force on August 1, 2014, subjecting bloggers who garner more than 3,000 daily viewers to rules similar to those placed on traditional media outlets.

The law, which ostensibly regulates the work of the 369 blogs so far added to the government's official registry, appears to be having a broad-based chilling effect. The new blogger regulations are exacerbated by other internet legislation, such as the data localization law that will take effect in September this year. The law requires Internet companies operating in Russia to store Russian user data on servers inside the Russian Federation. The combined effects of these new, tighter Internet regulations, both current and predicted, have prompted Russian Internet guru Anton Nossik to declare the coming “end” of US social media services like Facebook, Twitter, and Google in Russia.

Intel's decision could create an important precedent. Lawmakers and police say the blogger law is a government effort to improve the quality of Russia's “new mass media,” but the closure of Intel's forums for Russian developers shows how easily such Internet regulations spill into other seemingly innocuous Web activities.

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