Russia Intensifies Censorship Campaign, Pressuring Tech Giants

On Feb. 16, a Roskomnadzor official said companies that do not comply by the end of the month will face penalties. In addition to penalties and potential shutdowns or recessions, penalties can disrupt advertising sales, search engine operations, data collection, and payments under the law.

“For those companies that have not started the process for ‘landing’, we will consider the issue of implementing the measures before the end of this month,” said Vadim Subbotin, deputy head of Roskomnadzor, according to Russian media, in the Russian parliament.

Human-rights and free-speech groups have said they are disappointed that some technology companies, which are often seen as inferior to the government inside Russia, are complying with the law without public protest.

“The purpose behind the adoption of the landing law is to create a legal basis for widespread online censorship by silencing the remaining opposition voices and endangering the freedom of online expression,” said Joanna Szimenska, referring to Article 19 of the Russian Internet Censorship Act. London-based Society Group.

Mr. Chikov, who represents companies including Telegram in cases against the Russian government, said they met with Facebook last year to discuss its Russia’s policies. Facebook officials sought advice on whether to pull out of Russia, he said, including cutting off access to Facebook and Instagram. The company complied with the law instead.

Mr. Chikov urged tech companies to speak out against Russian demands, even if they result in sanctions, to set a broader example of fighting censorship.

“The time has come when big tech companies have been at the forefront not only in terms of technology but also in terms of civil liberties and freedom of expression and privacy,” he said. “Now they protect their business interests like the big transnational corporations.”

Anton Troanovsky And Oleg Matsnev Contribution Report.

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