Russia clears way to block Facebook, YouTube for 'censorship'

Russia clears way to block Facebook, YouTube for ‘censorship’

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Moscow: On Wednesday, members of the Russian parliament took a step closer to allowing regulators to block Internet platforms such as Facebook and YouTube, provided that they were deemed to have censored content produced by Russians.

The Russian House of Commons, which passed the draft legislation in the third reading, said in a press release that if the authorities are found to restrict information based on nationality and language, the authorities can target the platform.

The lower house State Duma added that internet websites could also be sanctioned “in the event of discrimination against the content of Russian media”.

In an explanatory note attached to the bill, the authors wrote that authorities have been receiving complaints this year from Russian media that their accounts have been censored by “foreign internet platforms Twitter, Facebook and YouTube”.

Earlier this year, American technology giants issued labels for state media.

Legislation now needs to be approved by the Federation Committee of the Upper House before President Vladimir Putin signs into law-these steps are considered formalities.

In recent years, the Kremlin has increased its control of the Internet sector in Russia under the pretext of fighting online extremism.

In 2018, regulators ordered the blocking of the encrypted Messenger service Telegram, although these attempts ended early this year, after its co-founder Pavel Durov reported steps to combat extremism.

Last week a Moscow court fined Google for not taking down online content banned by Russian authorities, the latest in a series of escalating penalties.

In February a Moscow court fined Twitter and Facebook for ignoring a Russian law requiring them to store Russian citizens’ user data inside the country.

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