News i Agency – Russia’s new move towards virtual governance / Facebook and Telegram were fined

A Russian court has fined Facebook and Telegram for refusing to remove banned content, according to News i Agency’s International Group.

The Associated Press described the move as part of a growing government effort to tighten control over cyberspace.

The court in Moscow reportedly sentenced Facebook to pay 17 million rubles (approximately $ 236,000) and Telegram to pay 10 million rubles ($ 139,000).

The Associated Press reports that it is not yet clear what content the two social media outlets have refused to remove.

This is the second time the two companies have been fined by Russia in recent weeks. On May 25, Moscow fined Facebook $ 362,000. One month earlier, Telegram was fined $ 69,000 for refusing to delete messages inviting Russians to participate in protests.

Russia is monitoring and warning social networks and Internet service providers in order to regulate its Internet space and sovereignty. According to the Russian Regulatory Authority, these measures are part of Moscow’s pressure to contain Western technology giants and strengthen “Internet dominance.”

A few weeks earlier, a Russian court fined Google 4 million rubles ($ 5,540) for refusing to remove banned content. Russia’s Communications Watch said at the time that it had sent more than 26,000 requests to Google to remove unauthorized information, including videos containing information about drugs or violence.

A spokesman for Russia’s Federal Communications, Information, Technology and Public Media Observatory said on June 4 that Google had refused to remove banned content in Russia. The spokesman said that 20 to 30 percent of links with banned content, including the websites of extremist terrorist organizations, or sites with child pornography and online drug stores, would not be removed from Google search results in Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the Internet Governance Bill about a year ago, and according to a new law, Russian Internet service providers must not be connected to external servers.

Also, from the beginning of February 2021, a law was implemented in Russia that requires social networks to independently identify and block prohibited content.

Social networks are required to expeditiously restrict access to such prohibited information. If it is not possible for them to access such content independently within 24 hours, the social network administration must send this information to the FBI.

In line with the same law, the Russian Court of Peace Justice fined Twitter a total of 19 million rubles ($ 259,000) for not deleting banned content.

Content that Russia says tech giants and social networks are refusing to remove is encouraging children and teens to commit suicide, information about drugs or pornography.

Russia has also accused Twitter, Facebook and YouTube of discriminating against Moscow in recent months.

In recent months, Twitter has used the tag “government-affiliated media” for the accounts of some Russian media outlets. The company, like Facebook, deletes the accounts of some people every few months under the pretext of connecting with the Russian government.

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