Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Facebook and Twitter Could Face Bans in Russia

Facebook and Twitter could face Telegram’s fate in Russia for not transferring their data servers from current locations to its country again.

Slap Me on the Cheek

Roskomnadzor is the name of the agency responsible for internet censorship in Russia. It is an official government agency responsible for curtailing issues on the internet as regards Russian citizens and passing laws necessary to protect its citizens. Many of the agency’s laws, however, are becoming easier to avoid, rather than being difficult to follow.

Roskomnadzor—a handful name for an agency— has continually found itself in funny situations since the beginning of 2016 when it decided to start enacting its well-thought-out laws.

The agency has gotten into well-publicized spats with tech firms like Google, Facebook, and Telegram. This time, they have revisited Facebook’s matter once more. One of the important laws passed by the Russian government agency in 2015 mandated all internet companies with Russian data to promptly relocate their servers to Russian soil.

As expected, not many have shown eagerness to comply, with three years running now. Why one could be tempted to label the agency’s name as the reason most companies are not taking them seriously, there is a more logical explanation. Roskomnadzor’s fines and punishments against non-complying companies have been all shades of difficult to even laughable.

For example, the agency threateningly required Google to block some sites it did not approve in 2018, and responded with a hefty fine when the company did not budge—a slap of half a million roubles! Well, the trouble is, half a million roubles is only a little above $7000, how is that for a hefty fine?

Related Article:  Moscow Counts on Blockchain for Fair Elections

The agency’s decision to alienate Telegram last year also backfired. In a bid to prevent Russians from using the messaging app—who were already invoking VPNs by the way—the agency found that its solution had accidentally cut off both Google and Amazon’s cloud services.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Roskomnadzor has already begun proceedings against Facebook. An excerpt from the paper read:

“Vadim Ampelonsky, a spokesman for Roskomnadzor, told the television channel Russia 24 that Facebook and Twitter could be fined for not providing information to the watchdog.”

‘We expect to hold them administratively liable,’ Mr. Ampelonsky said.”

Facebook is a Gentleman

According to ArsTechnica, Facebook might just be prepared to ‘turn the other cheek’ and entertain Roskomnadzor’s worries. The news outlet claims Facebook has given a positive response to having talks with the agency. According to Ars, the giant company is now “in touch with relevant Russian governmental bodies regarding its activities in Russia.”

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