YouTube and Facebook will be banned in Russia

Vladimir Putin has signed a bill banning the censorship of Russian media by international websites. For starters, the YouTube service, which is known to block Russian publication channels on a regular basis, can go to the Forbidden Sites Registry. Violators will also pay up to 3 million rubles in fines.
Sanctions as a reaction to sanctions

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a bill to block the censoring of Russian media by foreign services. Facebook and Twitter social networks, as well as YouTube video hosts, could be blocked.

The paper was issued with the number 482-FZ. “On measures of influence on persons involved in violations of fundamental human rights and freedoms, rights and freedoms of citizens of the Russian Federation.”On Measures of Influence on Persons Involved in Violations of Basic Human Rights and Freedoms, Rights and Freedoms of Russian Citizens.

That the current legislation is endangering the places
Under the current laws, separate restrictions may be placed on international Internet sites for blocking access to information on the grounds of race, gender and political affiliation, as well as on the basis of official and property status, respectively. In every lawful manner, the Russian Federation is free to search, obtain, transfer, generate and distribute material,’ the law says.

In coordination with the Russian Foreign Ministry, the Prosecutor General may admit that the owner of a foreign website is guilty of a violation of the new legislation, that is, of discrimination against the Russian media. Immediately afterwards, his decision will be passed to Roskomnadzor, which, in exchange, will be allowed to block access to the offending website partly or entirely. Using technological means to fight attacks, he would even be able to slow down his traffic in Russia.

Moreover, owners of Internet services that allow Russian media to be filtered will be subject to additional administrative penalties in the form of fines ranging from several thousand to three million rubles. Deputy Anton Gorelkin of the State Duma, one of the writers of the legislation, told TASS about this on the day the bill was proposed for consideration. Later, the deputies will make the requisite amendments to the Administrative Code.

‘Recognizing that the owner of the information resource is engaged in abuses of the basic human rights and freedoms, rights and freedoms of citizens of the Russian Federation, including the freedom of the media, involves taking the steps provided for by the laws of the Russian Federation with regard to the information resource,’ reads the text of the new legislation.

42 days to get the bill passed

On 19 November 2020, a paper on the prospect of banning Twitter, Facebook and others in Russia in order to censor domestic media was sent for submission to the State Duma. It is endorsed by parliamentarians from different groups, including, in addition to the aforementioned Anton Gorelkin, United Russia deputies Alexander Khinshtein and Sergei Boyarsky (a prominent artist’s son), as well as Senator Alexei Pushkov and several other deputies of the Russian Federation’s United Russia and Communist Party.

In the first reading, on 9 December 2020, the State Duma found the text, which passed the second reading on 22 December 2020 and the third – practically the next day. Just two days later, he got the consent of the Federation Council, and after another five days, the signature of the President of Russia appeared on it.

The emergence of the new legislation resulted from the inability of Facebook, Twitter and Google (the YouTube owner) to avoid blocking Russian newspapers, despite Roskomnadzor’s multiple appeals to them. These firms limited access to materials from about 20 Russian media outlets, including RIA Novosti, RT, Sputnik and Russia 1, at the time the paper was sent for submission to the State Duma.

For example, on November 12, 2020, Roskomnadzor requested that Google lift restrictions on the USA 2020 documentary: Upinarms, published on the official Russia Today YouTube page, and on November 18, 2020, the regulator sent a request to the Internet giant to unblock the Russian journalist Vladimir Soloviev’s YouTube channel ‘Soloviev LIVE.’ The channel’s videos have not been featured in the Trending segment of YouTube since October 2020, but this has existed periodically before. Roskomnadzor argues that this situation can be interpreted as an effort by the YouTube administration to limit the Russian author’s distribution of content, in order to deter his audience from rising.

Other Russian YouTube channels and videos uploaded on them are also blocked by Google. The accounts of the Tsargrad station, AnnaNews and NewsFront news services, for example, were subject to fines, and the Crimean Krym 24 TV channel was absolutely deleted