Russia says disrupting Twitter over 'illegal' content

WION Web Team
Moscow, Russia Published: Mar 10, 2021, 02:10 PM(IST)

A phased out Twitter? Photograph:( AFP )

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Russia's media watchdog Wednesday said in a statement its decision to restrict Twitter's services was intended to "protect Russian citizens" and force the company to comply with Russian law. 

Moscow has restricted the use of Twitter by slowing down its speed for users in the country over what it said was the social media platform's failure to remove "illegal" content.

Russia's media watchdog Wednesday said in a statement its decision to restrict Twitter's services was intended to "protect Russian citizens" and force the company to comply with Russian law. 

Russian authorities in recent years have been tightening control over the internet in the name of fighting extremism, terrorism and protecting minors.

The Roskomandzor watchdog said the disruption would begin on Wednesday and comprise a "slowdown in service speed" on all mobile users and 50 per cent of desktop users. It added that since 2017 it had sent Twitter "over 28,000 initial and repeated requests" to delete links to child pornography, information on drug use and calls for minors to commit suicide.

The watchdog warned that if Twitter ignores Russian law it could face further restrictions, including a complete ban in the country.

Twitter, like other US social media, is used widely inside Russia by allies of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny whose jailing last month prompted nationwide protests.

"The slowing down will be applied on a 100% of mobile devices and on 50% of non-mobile devices," the regulator said in a statement on its website.

"If (Twitter) continues to ignore the requirements of the law, the enforcement measures will be continued in line with the response regulations (all the way to blocking)," it said.

Also read | Russia sues Google, Facebook, Twitter for not deleting protest content: Report

Wednesday's move comes amid mounting efforts by Moscow to exert greater influence over US social media platforms and frustrations over what authorities say is their failure to follow Russian laws.

Moscow in recent months has put Western tech giants like Facebook and Twitter under increasing pressure for failing to take down calls to participate in anti-government demonstrations. It has already banned a number of websites that refused to cooperate with authorities, such as the video platform Dailymotion and professional networking website LinkedIn.

Last December, parliament's lower house backed big new fines on platforms that fail to delete banned content and another bill that would allow them to be restricted if they "discriminate" against Russian media.

In 2019, a law was passed for the development of a "sovereign internet" aimed at isolating Russia from the worldwide web, a move activists fear will tighten government control of cyberspace and stifle free speech.

(with inputs from agencies)

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