Russia: 'Swearbot' to root out online obscenities

  • 6 May 2014
Monitors search the web for obscenities
Image caption At the moment, monitors search websites individually to weed out profanities

A computer programme to seek out swear words on the internet should go live in the autumn, to enforce a Russian law against online obscenity, it's been reported.

Already, Russian media watchdog Roskomnadzor employs monitors to scan about 5,000 websites for obscene terms by hand, under a law passed last year that fines and seizes equipment from violators, the Izvestia newspaper reports.

The country's Academy of Science says the law applies to "obscene references to the male and female reproductive organs, copulation and women of loose morals, and all words derived from them" - a genre in which Russian vocabulary is particularly rich.

One commenter notes that expletives are part of everyday speech. "If they ban swearing in Russia, all technical progress will grind to a halt," he says. "Warehouses will close and the army will lose its combat readiness. For our Motherland, it will be the end," he adds, deploying a euphemism that sails close to the official guidelines.

Another law to root out swearing in feature films provoked much online mockery last month, with critics saying the measure amounts to backdoor political censorship. With the arrival of the "swearbot" program some analysts say bloggers might be at risk, especially as a law that defines major blogs as mass media is speeding towards approval.

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