The clones of sputnik.md, which were created after the closure of the original portal by the Information and Security Service (SIS), can no longer be accessed from within the Republic of Moldova. The decision was made after the Center for Investigative Journalism from Moldova (CIJM) uncovered the fact that, shortly after being blocked, sputnik.md resorted to its derivatives - sputniknews.com, md.sputniknews.com, ro.sputniknews.com, sputniknews.ru, and md.sputniknews.ru - to continue broadcasting their propaganda content.
On March 22, the SIS ordered the closure of the five aforementioned sites, citing that they "promote false information in a field that affects national security, under the conditions of the state of emergency". The order contained mandatory instructions to network providers and/or electronic communications services to immediately block access to the aforementioned sources for users within the Republic of Moldova, in accordance with the law.
On February 26, 2022, two days after the Russian Federation's invasion of Ukraine, the Intelligence and Security Service banned the sputnik.md website in the Republic of Moldova because it "promotes information that incites hatred and war, under the conditions of the state of emergency". However, shortly thereafter, md.sputniknews.com emerged, followed by other derivatives of the portal.
In an interview with Anticorupție.md, IT expert Radu Plugaru stated that the authorities have limited power to block all dangerous websites for the security of the Republic of Moldova's information space. Plugaru explained that a website has several identifying characteristics, including its domain name (which is unique in the world) and the IP address of the server (although multiple unaffiliated websites can be hosted on the same server). The government only has jurisdiction over all .md sites, meaning that if violations are found, they can only ban .md domains. Additionally, through ISPs, they can block web traffic to/from some IP addresses. These are the only two tools that can be used to block a site. However, Plugaru noted that a website is nothing more than a "folder" on a computer connected to the Internet, and to avoid a penalty, it is enough to change the name of the site and/or the IP address of the server, which can be done easily. Therefore, switching from a .md domain name to a .com one is a measure that ensures the definitive exit from the jurisdiction of the Republic of Moldova, leaving the government with only one mechanism to block a site. However, switching to another IP address is very simple, so a site that wants to activate can quite easily bypass any sanctions imposed by the government.
The legal expert of the Center for Investigative Joutnalism, Sergiu Bozianu, suggests that a solution for cleaning the informational space of sites with content that misinforms or places subversive messages with propagandistic content would be the repetitive application of the restrictive measure. However, Bozianu admits that the Internet has its own rules, and state authorities have too few levers to intervene.
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