The technology sector continues to expand its restrictions against Russia and its media outlets, amid the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Images and videos of Russia’s military operations in Ukraine have been widely distributed via social media, including actions that will be investigated as war crimes, with the deaths of hundreds of civilians.

Russia’s actions have prompted a range of sanctions from nations around the world, and the technology industry has followed suite. On Monday for example, Google temporarily disabled for Ukraine Google Maps tools providing information about live traffic conditions and how busy places are.

Russia restrictions

Global sanctions and restrictions against Russia are wide ranging, and have mostly targetted its banks and oligarchs.

But more and more restrictions and sanctions are been applied against Russia over its actions in Ukraine.

For example FedEx and UPS are suspending shipments to Russia, further isolating Russia’s economy from the rest of the world.

FIFA and UEFA have kicked out Russia from the 2022 football world cup, and the European Union is to follow the lead of the UK and US, and will spend 500m euros to purchase weapons for Ukraine, and close off its airspace to all Russian aircraft.

Germany has announced it is reversing decades of underspending on its military and announced a big expansion of its armed forces.

Amidst all this, more sanctions and restrictions are being placed on Russian entities by big name tech firms.

YouTube

Google’s YouTube for example is now blocking channels connected to Russian state-backed media outlets RT and Sputnik across Europe effective immediately.

“It’ll take time for our systems to fully ramp up,” a YouTube spokesperson was quoted by Reuters in a statement. “Our teams continue to monitor the situation around the clock to take swift action.”

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

Sputnik International meanwhile is a Russian state-owned news agency, broadcaster and website platform.

Both media outlets have denied Western allegations they are Russian propaganda outlets.

Meta (Facebook)

Meta Platforms on Monday also said it will restrict access to Russia’s television network RT and news agency Sputnik on its platforms across the European Union.

Earlier Meta Platforms said it had shut down a Russian campaign to hack the accounts of Ukraine military officials and journalists, and a separate effort to undermine trust in the Ukrainian government.

Russia on Friday said it would limit access to Facebook within the country in response to these acts of “censorship”.

Twitter

Twitter meanwhile has confirmed that Russia had limited desktop computer access to its platform in some parts of the country,

“We’re aware that Twitter is being restricted for some people in Russia and are working to keep our services safe and accessible,” the company said in a statement.

Twitter meanwhile has said it will label tweets containing contents from the Russian state-controlled media and reduce their visibility.

It should be remembered that from last year the Russia’s communications regulator Roskomnadzor had slowed access to the service in Russia on mobile devices as a punitive action, saying it was not removing illegal content.

But on Tuesday Reuters reported (citing Interfax) that Roskomnadzor had reinstated a slowdown of Twitter’s traffic on desktop computers, due to what it alleged were fake posts about Russia’s “special operation” in Ukraine.

Russian response

Russia meanwhile continues to spin its propaganda, with Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday saying a system should be created to hold western tech giants, including Meta and Alphabet’s Google, responsible for what it called “inciting war”, the Interfax news agency reported.

Roskomnadzor also demanded that foreign internet services stop discriminating against Russian media in Europe.

It should be noted that Google, Meta and Twitter are also facing fines and punitive measures in Russia after failing to open local offices.

They are also refusing Russia’s requests to remove “banned content”.

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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