Putin says Russia must not use blanket bans to make internet safer

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a live nationwide broadcast call-in in Moscow, Russia June 7, 2018. Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday there were no plans to shut down social media sites or limit internet freedoms in Russia, and that a “civilized” solution was needed to make the internet safer.

Russia blocked the online messaging service Telegram in April after it refused to grant state security services access to its users’ encrypted messages. Critics called the move internet censorship.

Putin was asked by a blogger on national television during his marathon annual call-in on Thursday whether Russia might block Instagram and YouTube.

Putin said he was up-to-speed with the situation with the move to ban Telegram and added: “We are not going to close anything.”

He said his primary concern was people’s safety.

“At the same time, I also worked in the security services and know it is easiest to ban, and harder to find civilized solutions,” he said.

“Therefore, I’m going to urge all my colleagues to take this route, the route of ... using modern methods to combat offences, including terrorism, without restricting freedoms, including those on the internet.”

Reporting by Christian Lowe and Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Maria Kiselyova and Kevin Liffey