Russian system to scan internet for undesired content and dissent

Feb 13 (Reuters) - Russia has launched a system that will scan the internet for illegal content, making it easier for authorities to detect unsanctioned protests, anti-war dissent and "LGBT propaganda", officials said on Monday.

The "Oculus" system will be able to read text and recognise illegal scenes in photos and videos, analysing more than 200,000 images per day at a rate of about three seconds per image, the Interfax news agency reported.

Since sending its armed forces into Ukraine in February, Moscow has suppressed political opposition and independent media inside Russia that had survived previous clampdowns, and amplified a conservative, nationalist narrative that frowns on "non-traditional" lifestyles and orientations.

Oculus "automatically detects offences such as extremist content, calls for illegal mass gatherings or suicide, pro-drug content, LGBT propaganda and so on," Interfax quoted the Main Radio Frequency Centre (MRFC), part of the communications supervisor Roskomnadzor, as saying.

"Since the start of the special military operation in Ukraine, 'fakes' have proliferated and spread at an unprecedented rate, aiming to replace real facts with a specially constructed reality," it said.

"The creation of this system is our response to provocations and anti-Russian actions on the part of foreign resources."

Russia has accused the West of promoting the spread of what it calls fake information about its "special military operation" in Ukraine in an attempt to discredit Russia's armed forces.

It passed legislation last year imposing fines on people spreading such information and cracked down on social media sites and news outlets that share content at odds with Moscow's official line on the conflict. All Russia's television channels are state-run and closely follow the government's narrative.

Another new law provides for fines for any individual or organisation found to promote "LGBT propaganda", a move that critics say outlaws any public mention of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people, following what are officially termed "non-traditional" lifestyles.

The Main Radio Frequency Centre did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reporting by Caleb Davis; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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