Russia Threatens To Block Access To Facebook, Google And Twitter Unless They Obey New Bloggers Law

from the getting-serious dept

Last year, Techdirt wrote about yet another of Russia’s new laws aimed at taming the troublesome internet world. Its most striking feature was that bloggers with more than 3,000 visitors a day were required to register on a special list, and to abide by general mass media restrictions. We noted then that blogs located overseas were not covered by the new law. But according to this report in The Guardian, based on a story in Izvestia, it seems that the law is now being applied to foreign service providers too: Facebook, Google and Twitter are all being threatened with fines or even bans for non-compliance:

The [Russian communications agency’s] deputy director, Maksim Ksenzov, had issued a warning to the three companies on 6 May, telling them they were in violation of the bloggers law because they had not provided requested data on the number of daily visitors to several users’ pages, as well as information allowing the authorities to identify the owners of accounts with more than 3,000 daily visitors.

The companies are threatened with fines, but these are relatively modest: up to 300,000 roubles ($6,000) for the first offense. Subsequent infringements lead to bigger fines or a ban on the website for up to 30 days. As The Guardian points out:

If the companies did not take steps to delete from their sites “information containing calls to participate in mass rioting, extremist activities” or unsanctioned public events, the watchdog would “limit access to the information resource where that information is posted”, Ksenzov warned.

The problem is that regional Internet service providers might not be able to provide much granularity when limiting access to these pages, leading to services from the companies concerned being blocked completely in those areas. As the Izvestia article explains, although the Russian authorities are very keen for the US companies to obey Russian law, and point out that they are simply following in the footsteps of the the European Commission, it’s not clear how they could force compliance or collect any fines they imposed.

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Comments on “Russia Threatens To Block Access To Facebook, Google And Twitter Unless They Obey New Bloggers Law”

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14 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

With the Facebook equivalent VKontakte still being the market leader by a large margin in Russia, blocking Facebook would have a much more limited impact then most other countries. Although I would think Russia would look for any excuse to block Facebook if Vkontakte’s leadership status is ever seriously challenged.

Anonymous Coward says:

and the frightening thing is, this is exactly the sort of censorship that is happening in the so-called ‘free world’ where privacy and freedom is supposed to be respected, be all important! what appears to be important now, especially in countries like the USA, the UK and most of the EU, as well as other members of the 5eyes club, is the complete dissemination of the every things that our societies are built on. privacy, freedom and freedom of speech are being not just eroded but completely eliminated. and it isn’t to counter terrorism or child pornography, it’s to allow the various governments to be prepared when they do the next bad deed or a politician or industry head goes off the rails and the public want to decry what has happened. even worse is when the general public decide that their governments are way out of line and want to take action over the issue(s). if governments are inside your txt, mail and calls, they can quell a riot before it gets started! in other words, the planet is on the verge of being run by a complete body of dictators who will take control of everything we do and prevent us from doing what they dont like! wait and see. it wont be long. the human rights bill in the UK is being thrown out because Cameron doesn’t like it as are other laws. then he has brought in internet censorship, agreed on by party members, now May is trying to bring in even more drastic censorship and the politicians cant understand why. it doesn’t take rocket science to know that as soon as something starts, making it more severe is a mere formality!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Something I’ve never quite understood is why the Russian government’s heavy-handedness makes constant headline material in the Western press while the Ukrainian government’s heavy-handedness almost never gets mentioned — despite being much worse.

http://globalvoicesonline.org/2015/04/28/ukraine-censorship-russia-propaganda-hosting/

Sunhawk says:

Re: Russia vs. Ukraine

To be honest, there’s probably two major factors:

* Russia is seen as being the (former?) Evil Empire by many, particularly older people in positions in the media and politics.

* Most people tend to not honestly care about Ukraine, considering it to have little ability to make an impact beyond the local one.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Russia vs. Ukraine

Russia has a relatively recent history of splitting up. Any country having lost part of their territory will have a patriotic craving for a reunion being pushed by nationalists. In conservative circles that is called revanchism.

Ukraine is a small country compared to Russia in terms of their economic or military power.

With those things in mind Russia is the belittled part in history and they have the economic and military power to push for “their right”. From those points Russias governments actions will have to be scrutinized more than Ukraines.

When that is said Russia seems to be moving towards a chinese inspired system with massive restrictions on personal expression and a purely realpolitical discourse.

Anonymous Coward says:

Since the US has admitted it was responsible for placing agent provocateurs into the countries involved in the ‘Arab Spring’ and the latest FOIA release from the DoD admits to intentionally forming and arming ISIS, Russia know that the US is predominantly responsible for stirring up trouble in other countries in order to drive regime change. It’s also why they threw all US-based NGOs out of the country. This is just another (not unexpected) route that they’ve taken in order to limit the extent to which the US can attempt to stir up trouble.

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