Facebook, Twitter, Google and other social networks could be sanctioned, fined or even banned in Russia due to a law that deals with blogging. Russian authorities had demanded that the social networks provide information about the number of users who visit certain pages daily and information to help officials identify those users.
However, the networks apparently did not comply with the demand.
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Russia targets extremists
Alec Luhn of The Guardian reports that not only Facebook, Twitter and Google may face sanctions or ultimately be banned in Russia, but also their subsidiaries, like Google’s YouTube or Facebook’s Instagram. The so-called “bloggers’ law” is reportedly aimed at deleting pages on social networks which contain materials that are extremist in nature.
Under the law, bloggers are required to register with Russian authorities using their real names. Bloggers have said the law means to put boundaries on free speech and pages that criticize the Russian regime.
Facebook, Google, Twitter warned
Russia’s communications oversight agency reportedly warned Twitter, Facebook and Google on May 6, informing them that they were operating in violation of the law. The social networks had not complied with demands regarding the pages of several users or information about the account owners who se pages have over 3,000 visitors per day.
The bloggers’ law states that Russian regulators can fine a company up to 300,000 roubles for the first violation of the law and up to 500,000 roubles for the second violation. Officials can also suspend a company’s operations for up to 30 days for the second infringement of the law.
Further, officials demanded that the social networks delete “information containing calls to participate in mass rioting, extremist activities” or public events that are not sanctioned. They also threatened to “limit access to the information resource where that information is posted” if the companies do not comply, according to The Guardian.
Russia cracks down on internet use
Since President Vladimir Putin’s third term as began in 2012, Moscow has been cracking down on internet use in the country, passing laws like the bloggers’ law and others that are designed to regulate internet use. The laws have widened the government’s authority to block and regulate websites.
Russia has already blocked a number of news sites which publish content that criticizes the regime, like EJ.ru, Kasparov.ru and Grani.ru. In the second half of last year, Facebook did block 55 pages at the request of the Russian communication oversight agency. One of the pages was one that invited people to attend a rally to support opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
Google was also forced to comply with a Russian law that requires the personal data of Russian citizens to be stored in the country by moving some of its servers into Russia.