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30 Jun, 2021 12:43

Russia not planning to block foreign social media networks despite showdown with US giant Twitter over 'illegal content' - Putin

Russia not planning to block foreign social media networks despite showdown with US giant Twitter over 'illegal content' - Putin

Social media networks operating in Russia must comply with the country’s laws and crack down on banned content, President Vladimir Putin has said, while insisting that the government does not want to ban foreign sites.

Speaking as part of his traditional televised ‘Direct Line’ question-and-answer session with the public on Wednesday, Putin rejected suggestions that tech giants like Twitter and Facebook could be blocked by the state, despite recent rows with regulators. “We have no such plans,” the leader said. “We are not going to block anyone – we are going to work with them.”

However, we went on to add that “there are problems, particularly when they send us away and then don’t fulfill our requirements under Russian laws... they say to us that they will make undertakings, and that if we don’t like something, they give us token gestures and tell us to rejoice that they’ve done anything at all.” Putin said that “this humiliates your dignity in our eyes.”

Also on rt.com Putin says freedom of speech online must be defended against social media companies intent on making ‘profit at any cost’

The president also said that meeting the standards set out in Russian law is essential if firms want to continue to make money in the country, and that new rules require foreign tech giants to open local representative offices so they can be held to account by authorities.

Putin lavished praise on Russian-developed messaging service Telegram, which previously fell foul of the country’s courts and was briefly banned over security agencies’ concerns about its encryption and secret chat functions. However, he said, “In my opinion, we have come to an agreement and everything is working.”

In February, the Russian leader warned that tech companies based overseas were making major decisions about content in the absence of clear oversight and accountability. “These platforms are, of course, primarily businesses… and what is the primary concern of a business? Making a profit,” he told a group of schoolteachers. “They don’t care if this content or that content causes harm for the people at whom it is directed,” he said. “After all, these modern IT companies are more and more beginning to control people’s consciousnesses.”

READ MORE: Russia announces it won’t be blocking Twitter after American tech giant deletes thousands of posts at behest of state regulator

Officials from Russia’s online media regulator, Roskomadzor, have been in talks with American companies like Twitter and Facebook to demand they remove prohibited content, said to include child pornography, drug use and calls for minors to commit suicide. Silicon Valley firm Twitter has seen its server speeds slowed down in the country for initially refusing to take action over the watchdog’s claims, which authorities said could ultimately lead to a ban. However, in May, the regulator said the service was complying with the vast majority of takedown requests and would not face a ban.

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