This past Wednesday Roskomnadzor, Russia’s telecom and Internet regulator, announced the launch of a registry of major domestic and foreign social networks.
The regulator cites amendments to the Russian legislation on information and information technologies which came in force on Feb. 1, 2021. Establishing the “self-control” of social networks, these new rules mandate them to identify, moderate and block prohibited content on their own, i.e. without a court decision.
This new legislation targets content involving “criminal purposes, calls for terrorist activities, violations of state secrets, the cult of violence or cruelty, pornography” — as well as “extremist materials,” which is how the authorities increasingly tend to refer to anti-Kremlin content.
Among other requirements, social networks must provide an electronic form allowing users to report illegal content. In case of unlawful content, online platforms must take measures according to Roskomnadzor’s instructions while the concerned users must be notified about the restrictions to their content.
Eight platforms have been included in the registry so far: Facebook, Instagram, Likee, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube as well as top Russian social networks, VKontakte and Odnoklassniki.
Notably, instant messenger Telegram is not included in the list, even though it seems to formally fall under the definition of a social network under this law.
Opposition-minded commentators saw in this exception a Kremlin reward for Telegram’s recent decision to block the Navalny and some other campaigning bots on election days.
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