Twitter Soon To Be Blocked For Russian Users – Report

Russia is doubling down on its actions against microblogging platform Twitter, with authorities repeating a stark warning.

A senior regulatory official was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying on Tuesday that Russia will block Twitter in one month unless it deletes banned content, Reuters reported.

It comes after Russia last week slowed down the speed of Twitter in retaliation for its alleged failure to remove banned content. And at the same time Russia also threatened a total block if the American platform did not comply with its deletion demands.

Closure threat

And now this week this threat has now been repeated by Russian officials.

Vadim Subbotin, the deputy head of Roskomnadzor, the communications watchdog, was reportedly cited as saying on Tuesday that Twitter had not addressed Russian concerns yet and would be blocked in Russia in a month unless it did so.

“Twitter is not reacting to our requests as they should. If the situation carries on then it will be blocked in a month without a court order,” the Interfax news agency cited Subbotin as saying.

Subbotin reportedly said that Twitter could still avoid being blocked if it took action to delete the banned content.

Roskomnadzor, the state communications regulator, has previously alleged there were more than 3,000 posts containing illegal content on Twitter, allegedly including child pornography, information about drug abuse, and calls for minors to commit suicide.

Russian pressure

When Russia last week announced its slowdown of Twitter, the US firm responded and reportedly said it was worried about the impact on free speech of the Russian action.

Twitter also denied that it allowed its platform to be used to promote illegal behaviour as alleged by Russian authorities, Reuters reported.

The US firm has so far not issued a response to the repeated shutdown threat.

Russia is already suing Twitter and four other social networking platforms of allegedly failing to delete posts it said illegally urged children to take part in anti-Kremlin protests.

Russia is currently embroiled in nationwide protests over the arrest and jailing of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

Navalny had survived an assassination attempt when he was poisoned and returned to Russia after treatment in Germany, but was promptly arrested by the Kremlin.

Sovereign Internet

Russia’s latest actions are not unexpected.

Last year Russia’s parliament passed legislation that would enable the Russian government to hand out large fines to American social networking giants that fail to delete banned content, or ‘discriminated’ against Russian media outlets.

That move came after Twitter last year expanded its labelling of accounts belonging to several Russian media outlets with the description “state-affiliated media”, along with those of their senior staff and some key government officials in August 2020.

Russia is no where near as strict as China in the online world, but it should be remembered that it has already 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.

It now requires search engines to delete some search results, messaging services to share encryption keys with security services, and platforms to store user data on servers in Russia.

Russia also tried to ban the Telegram messenger service in 2018, but proved technically unable to block the app and last year publicly lifted the ban.

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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