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Russian MPs backs bills enabling Moscow to block US social media

Russian authorities could gain powers to restrict access to US social media sites found to discriminate against Russian media, and…

By admin , in Europe , at December 23, 2020 Tags:

Russian authorities could gain powers to restrict access to US social media sites found to discriminate against Russian media, and to levy big fines on platforms that do not delete banned content, under bills passed by the parliament’s lower house.

The authors of the two bills said infractions by YouTube and Facebook demonstrated the need for the legislation, which is part of a push to increase Russia’s internet sovereignty and has fuelled fears of creeping China-style controls.

The first bill would allow Russia to restrict access to or fully block websites, following what lawmakers said were complaints from state outlets that their accounts were being treated with prejudice by Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Twitter began labelling the accounts of several Russian media outlets with the description “state-affiliated media“, along with those of their senior staff and some key government officials in August, in a move decried by Russia at the time.

The second bill would allow Russia to fine internet providers and sites between 10% and 20% of their previous year’s Russia-based turnover for repeatedly failing to remove banned content.

The bill sets a maximum fine of 8m roubles (£79,000) for the first time sites fail to delete content containing calls for extremist activity, information about recreational drugs or child sexual abuse.

The bill’s authors said YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram had failed to remove hundreds of pages containing prohibited content as required by Russian law.

The two bills are expected to become law, although they still need to be approved by the upper house and signed by the president, Vladimir Putin.

Sites such as YouTube have become vital resources for critics of the Kremlin who say they are in effect banned from state television that is broadcast across Russia’s 11 time zones.

Google, Twitter and Facebook did not immediately respond to request for comment from Reuters.

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