- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Russia’s internet watchdog took action against Vice.com on Tuesday after determining that an article on the publication’s website ran afoul of government restrictions by encouraging shoplifting.

The government watchdog, Roskomnadzor, said that the Tobolsk City Court in Russia’s Tyumen region concluded that an article on Vice’s Russian-language website promoted the theft of goods from shopping malls and stores, thereby constituting a violation of Article 15.1, also known as the government’s Law on Information, according to an English-translation of an agency statement shared on social media Tuesday

News site Medusa identified the target of the ban as a November 2012 article posted on Vice’s Russian-language edition titled “Steal and Make a Run for It,” which contains advice for shoplifting. The Tobolsk City Court decided in December 2015 that the article violated Russian law, but did not add it to its list of prohibited webpages until this week, Medusa reported.

Access to the Vice.com article where the information appeared was being restricted across Russia as of Tuesday in accordance with the law, Roskomnadzor confirmed through an online blacklist maintained by the agency.

Roskomnadzor attempted to raise their concerns with Vice prior to the page being added to the Russian internet’s blacklist, but “our notice to the site’s administrators went unheeded,” the watchdog said through its page on the country’s premiere social media service, VK.

“We hope that this is a misunderstanding, and the editors of the site … respond and limit Russian users’ access to the material, which the court found banned for distribution in Russia. If you witness the dissemination of information on the so-called ‘shoplifting’ please report to law enforcement. Stealing is illegal,” Roskomnadzor said, according to the English translation.

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Previously, Wikipedia and Reddit were both temporarily banned in Russia for hosting webpages that contained information on drugs deemed illegal by Russian authorities.

Vice.com ranks within the top 200 with respect to global web traffic and is the 73rd most visited in the United States, according to Alexa, the Amazon-owned internet analytics company. Vice did not immediately return requests for comment on Tuesday.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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