Twitter has become the latest American tech firm to be fined by Russian authorities over its alleged failure to delete ‘banned content’.

Reuters reported that Moscow’s Tagansky District Court on Thursdayfined Twitter 3 million roubles ($40,920) for failing to delete content Russia deems illegal.

Earlier this month Russia’s state communications regulator Roskomnadzor filed fresh legal cases against both Google and Meta over their respective failures to remove “banned content” from their platforms.

Banned content

Roskomnadzor’s case against the two American tech giants could see a Moscow court impose stiffer fines, based on their annual turnover in Russia.

Twitter has denied allowing its platform to be used to promote illegal behaviour.

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment, Reuters reported.

The same court also said software development website GitHub, which Microsoft purchased, had been fined 1 million roubles for the same offence.

US-based firms are resisting Russian pressure, arguing that Russia’s requests threatens to stifle individual and corporate freedom.

Since March this year, the Russian government has used deep-packet inspection (DPI) technology to slowdown users’ access to Twitter, due to its no compliance.

Russia then extended this Twitter slowdown, and in November said the slowdown will remain until all banned content is removed.

Russian clampdown

It is no secret that Russia has ramped pressure on foreign tech firms in the past year, using a combination of punitive fines, threats of taxation, or slowing down their services.

In October for example, a court threatened to use Russian bailiffs to enforce the collection of 26 million roubles ($361,400) in fines imposed on Facebook for failing to delete content that Russia deems illegal.

A month before that in September Russia threatened to block YouTube in the country, after Google’s streaming division deleted the German-language channels of state-backed broadcaster RT (formerly Russia Today).

RT is a Russian state-controlled television network funded by the federal tax budget of the Russian government.

Earlier this year, Roskomnadzor wrote to Facebook and other social media firms to demand they remove posts containing calls for minors to participate in anti-government protests after the arrest of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

That pressure led Google and Apple to remove Navalny’s anti-government tactical voting app from their stores on the first day of a parliamentary election in September.

Russia has also passed a number of restrictive laws governing the online world, not least of which was its so called ‘Sovereign Internet’ law that enables Russia to be cut off from the global Internet.

Russia has also demanded that 13 foreign and mostly US technology companies be officially represented on Russian soil by the end of 2021 or face possible restrictions or outright bans.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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