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Russian Appellate Court Cancels Decision to Block Tor Project’s Website

A court of appeals in Russia has overturned a ruling by a regional court which allowed the blocking of the Tor Project’s website in the country. Due to violations during the initial proceedings, the case has been returned to the court of the first instance for another review.

Procedural violations, mainly the failure to summon the owner, have led to the canceling of the regional court’s decision to block, Roskomsvoboda announced this week. The lawyers of the non-governmental organization working to protect the rights of internet users in Russia played a role in the case which has been sent back to the first instance court in Saratov region.

The Tor Project’s website was blocked in December last year on the basis of a decision of the Saratov District Court from Dec. 18, 2017. The hearing in the appellate court, held online, was attended by Ekaterina Abashina from Roskomsvoboda’s legal team. Since the ruling of the district court has been canceled, should be unblocked, she said.

Abashina explained that the defense had two main arguments to challenge the initial decision. First of all, the absence of a representative of the platform at the hearings affected the rights and obligations of the owner. Then, Russian law does not currently prohibit the dissemination of information related to VPN technologies and anonymizers.

Ekaterina Abashina expects the new proceedings to begin within a month and hopes that the court of first instance considers Roskomsvoboda’s second point, that the spread of information about technologies such as Tor is not banned in the Russian Federation, and also attempts to summon the affected website’s owner as required by law.

What are your thoughts on the case with the blocking of the Tor Project’s website in Russia? Tell us in the comments section below.

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