Russia Bans Adult Websites, PornHub and YouPorn

Russian watchdog blocks access to porn sites for breaking the law banning the distribution of pornography

Russia’s media watchdog Roskomnadzor (or Russia’s Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media) has blocked the two popular adult websites, Pornhub and YouPorn for internet users in Russia. The agency’s duties include monitoring the internet and blocking sites deemed to have breached Russian law.

Roskomnadzor blacklisted 11 pornography sites on Tuesday. All of Russia’s internet service providers (ISPs) have 24 hours to comply with the block order.

According to Roskomnadzor, the reason for the decision was that the sites were spreading information that is harmful to the development of children. The court also ruled the site illegally produced and distributed pornography, a crime punishable by two to six years in prison.

While the agency did not state why the courts ordered the sites to be blocked, but repeated its advice from the last time it banned Pornhub in 2015. In September last year, Roskomnadzor had banned the Russian language version of Pornhub after a court in the southern western city of Krasnodar Krai declared that the website violated child protection laws.

The ban announced on Tuesday follows two separate judicial rulings – a court in Voronezh banned PornHub and a court in Vladivostok banned YouPorn – which, perhaps not surprisingly, determined that the websites “spread pornography”.

The new ruling by the media watchdog attracted social media backlash from frustrated users. When one Russian Twitter user asked Roskomnadzor: “If you block Pornhub, could you offer an alternative?” The government watchdog’s official Twitter account replied: “as an alternative, you could meet someone in real life.”

Russian Pornhub fans contacted the Twitter account of the U.S. site, asking if the adult service was aware it had been banned in Russia. Pornhub issued the following response directly to the account of the watchdog, in an attempt to win it around.

However, Roskomnadzor responded with a typically philosophical response:

It also retweeted a post by another Russian user who said that he had followed the agency’s advice, and that as a result he was due to have his wedding soon.

The Russian mechanism for fighting illegal content online allows low-level courts to ban even very popular sites, which sometimes leads to public uproar.

In June, the agency briefly blocked access to Wikipedia, after a court ruled an article about hashish contained banned information.