Russia intensifies its censorship campaign and puts pressure on tech giants

On February 16, a Roskomnadzor official said that companies that did not comply by the end of the month would face penalties. In addition to fines and potential shutdowns or slowdowns, penalties can disrupt ad sales, search engine operations, data collection, and payments, according to the law.

For those companies that have not started the “landing” measures, we will consider the issue of applying the measures before the end of this month, Vadim Sobotin, deputy head of Roskomnadzor, told the Russian parliament, according to Russian media.

Human rights and free speech groups said they were disappointed that some tech companies, often seen within Russia as less beholden to the government, are adhering to the law without public protest.

said Joanna Szymanska, an expert on Russian internet censorship efforts at ARTICLE 19, a civic community group organization based in London.

Mr. Chekhov, who has represented companies including Telegram in cases against the Russian government, said he met with Facebook last year to discuss its policies toward Russia. He said Facebook executives had sought advice on withdrawing from Russia, including cutting access to Facebook and Instagram. Instead the company complied with the laws.

Mr. Chekov urged tech companies to speak out against Russian demands, even if it leads to a ban, to set a broader precedent on fighting censorship.

“There have been times when the big tech companies have been leaders not only in technology but also in civil liberties, freedom of expression and privacy,” he said. “Now they are behaving like big transnational corporations that secure their commercial interests.”

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Anton Troyanovsky And the Oleg Matsnev Contribute to the preparation of reports.

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