Russia Increases Pressure On Foreign Tech Firms

Russia on Thursday, September 16, threatened US social media firms with sizable fines if they fail to delete content Moscow deems illegal and demanded Apple and Google stop allegedly meddling in its internal affairs on the eve of parliamentary elections.

Internet services are coming under increasing pressure ahead of Russia’s September 17-19 parliamentary vote. Russia’s authorities have said foreign firms are hampering their efforts to block virtual private networks (VPNs) and online resources linked to jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

Now, a long-running dispute over banned content looks set to move up a gear after Vadim Subbotin, deputy head of state communications regulator Roskomnadzor, signalled sizeable fines were possible.

“We will now consider applying turnover fines on those companies that systematically violate Roskomnadzor’s demands,” Interfax news agency cited Subbotin as saying.

While Russia has already levied several small fines on foreign tech companies, imposing penalties based on their turnover suggests potentially much bigger sums.

Subbotin named Facebook, Twitter, and Alphabet’s Google as some of the firms at risk.

Roskomnadzor now has “substantial” tools capable of enforcing the requirements of Russian law, he said, without giving further details.

Roskomnadzor has successfully slowed the speed of Twitter since March, impeded some VPN providers from operating, and last week blocked major domain name system (DNS) services for several hours.

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