Russia Intensifies Censorship Campaign, Pressuring Tech Giants

On Feb. 16, a Roskomnadzor official mentioned corporations that didn’t comply by the tip of the month would face penalties. Along with fines and attainable shutdowns or slowdowns, the penalties may disrupt advert gross sales, search engine operations, knowledge assortment and funds, in line with the legislation.

“For these corporations that haven’t began the process for ‘touchdown’ we’ll contemplate the problem of making use of measures earlier than the tip of this month,” Vadim Subbotin, deputy head of Roskomnadzor, informed the Russian Parliament, in line with Russian media.

Human-rights and free-speech teams mentioned they have been disillusioned that a number of the tech corporations, usually considered inside Russia as much less beholden to the federal government, have been complying with the legislation with out public protest.

“The ulterior motive behind the adoption of the touchdown legislation is to create authorized grounds for in depth on-line censorship by silencing remaining opposition voices and threatening freedom of expression on-line,” mentioned Joanna Szymanska, an skilled on Russian web censorship efforts at Article 19, a civil society group primarily based in London.

Mr. Chikov, who has represented corporations together with Telegram in circumstances in opposition to the Russian authorities, mentioned he met with Fb final yr to debate its Russia insurance policies. Fb executives sought recommendation on whether or not to tug out of Russia, he mentioned, together with chopping off entry to Fb and Instagram. The corporate complied with the legal guidelines as a substitute.

Mr. Chikov urged the tech corporations to talk out in opposition to the Russian calls for, even when it ends in a ban, to set a wider precedent about combating censorship.

“There have been occasions when the large tech corporations have been leaders when it comes to not solely know-how but in addition in civil liberties and freedom of expression and privateness,” he mentioned. “Now they behave extra like massive transnational companies securing their enterprise pursuits.”

Anton Troianovski and Oleg Matsnev contributed reporting.

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