Russia’s internet regulator is poised to significantly raise the fines it has slapped on U.S. technology companies such as Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc. as the Kremlin escalates its push to curb access to information online.
Companies that refuse to delete content judged to be illegal in Russia could soon face amends of 5% to 20% of their annual local revenue, Roskomnadzor, the federal communications watchdog, said in an email Monday.
r a number of companies that have systematically refused to comply with the agency’s legal demands, the issue of fines on revenue is being considered in the near future,” the press service said. It will also consider other means of enforcement, it said.
Russia has ratcheted up pressure on foreign technology companies amid a broader crackdown on anti-Kremlin opposition this year. Last week, Apple Inc. and Alphabet’s Google bowed to pressure to remove an app, called Smart Voting, designed to help protesters vote out ruling party politicians, after authorities accused them of meddling in parliamentary elections.
The government has moved aggressively to curb access to information since the arrest of opposition leader Alexey Navalny in January following his return to Russia. Many independent media outlets have been tagged “foreign agents” and forced to close or conform to onerous reporting requirements.
Roman Borisovich, a former Russian insurance executive who helped finance Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, said he expects the situation will continue to spiral as Russian authorities exert more control over foreign technology companies.
“They may have to close down their business in Russia or move people out of the country,” he said. “The regime is not going to return to semi-democratic process of cooperating with the opposition. It’s an all-out war.”
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Controversial KwaZulu-Natal pastor Dr HQ Nala has told his congregants that whoever believes in him should not take the vaccine, going as far as to say there is no coronavirus at all.
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