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Russia cracks down on Facebook, Twitter, and Telegram for non-compliance with new law

Moscow has been coming down hard on tech giants in the country by enforcing new laws and regulations.

Facebook, Twitter, and Telegram have been levied multiple fines amounting to millions of roubles (Russian currency) by a Russian court for not removing content deemed unlawful per the country’s laws, according to a Reuters report. While it is not clear what the content was, the move is part of a wider crackdown against Big Tech in the country.

Earlier this year, the country enforced a new law that required social media companies to take down content deemed illegal under the Russian law and comply with government requests for content takedowns within 24 hours or face fines which can go up to 10% of the companies’ total annual revenues in case of repeated violations. Since then, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and WhatsApp have faced multiple fines for not removing unlawful content or not complying with government orders.

How much the companies have been fined

According to the report, the Tagansky district court in Moscow levied the following:

  • Facebook was penalised with five fines totalling 21 million roubles ($287,850).
  • Twitter has to pay two fines of a total of 5 million roubles.
  • Telegram has to pay a fine of 9 million roubles.

Russia’s crackdown on Big Tech

March 2021: Russian internet regulator Roskomnadzor announced that access to Twitter will be slowed down in the country following what it says is the company’s inaction in taking down content inciting minors to self-harm or commit suicide

May 2021: Twitter, Google, and Tiktok were fined 19 million, 4 million, and 1.5 million roubles respectively for not removing banned content.

July 2021: Russia enforced a set of new rules which forced foreign tech companies with ‘500,000 visitors a day’ to open local offices.

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August 2021: Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp were reportedly fined 36 million roubles for failure to store Russian users’ data locally. In the same month, Facebook was fined 17 million roubles for not removing ‘banned information’, according to Russian news agency Rapsi.

September 2021: The Russian government published plans to tax foreign-owned tech firms that were operating in Russia, and in July, the country had also operationalised a law that required foreign tech firms to open local offices.

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I cover health and education technology for MediaNama. Reach me at anushka@medianama.com

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