Russia extends punitive Twitter slowdown to mid-May


MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia said on Monday it will extend a punitive Twitter slowdown until May 15, although it acknowledged that the US social media company had accelerated the removal of what Moscow calls prohibited content.

FILE PHOTO: The Twitter logo and a Russian flag are shown in this illustrated image taken on March 10, 2021. REUTERS / Dado Ruvic / Illustration / File Photo

Moscow has traditionally taken a more intervening role in Internet surveillance than neighboring China. But as friction has increased this year over the arrest and imprisonment of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, he has drawn a tougher line.

Russia has blocked Twitter’s speed since March for failing to remove content it considers illegal and has threatened to block it entirely. Photos and videos take longer to load for some users.

However, in a statement on Monday, state communications regulator Roskomnadzor said that Twitter had held talks with Russian authorities on April 1, resulting in an agreement to give it more time and an acknowledgment that prohibited content was being eliminating more quickly.

Twitter confirmed the talks with Russia.

“It was a productive discussion on how we can both work to ensure that reports of such illegal content are dealt with quickly,” he said in a statement.

Roskomnadzor said that, on average, Twitter was removing illegal content within 81 hours of receiving a request. That is still much longer than the 24 hours required by law.

Russian authorities have accused Twitter and others this year of failing to remove posts that Moscow said illegally urged children to participate in anti-Kremlin protests.

Roskomnadzor says he wants Twitter to remove content containing child pornography, drug abuse information or calls for minors to commit suicide.

Twitter denies allowing its platform to be used to promote illegal behavior, says it has a zero-tolerance policy for child sexual exploitation, and prohibits the promotion of suicide or self-harm.

After Russia announced the measure to curb its traffic, Twitter said it was concerned about the impact on freedom of expression.

Russia tried but failed to block the popular messaging app Telegram in 2018.

Roskomnadzor hasn’t said how it’s slowing down Twitter, but internet freedom advocates say it likely involves traffic surveillance and deep packet inspection (DPI), a form of data processing that can block and divert certain internet traffic. .

Leonid Evdokimov, a technical expert for Roskomsvoboda, a group that monitors Internet freedom in Russia, said authorities seemed more technically capable and that their threat to block Twitter was likely more realistic.

Major social media companies have been embroiled in an increasing number of disputes not just in Russia, but around the world as governments seek to curb their power.

Report by Tom Balmforth, Maxim Rodionov, Alexander Marrow; Edited by Alison Williams, Andrew Cawthorne and Barbara Lewis

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