Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed several internet censorship laws into force, including one that introduces crippling fines for failing to remove banned material.
Although sexually explicit content is technically legal in Russia, existing
laws banning the illegal production, dissemination and advertisement of pornographic materials and objects and other laws claiming to protect the health of Russian children are deployed by the state at its own discretion against sites hosting adult
The end-of-the-year legislative package signed into law by Putin, according to Reuters , also grants the Russian government new powers to restrict U.S. social media giants, label individuals 'foreign agents,' and to crack down on the
disclosure of its security officers' personal data.
One of the measures was a response complaints about supposed bias and prejudice shown by Facebook, Twitter and YouTube against Russian media. If social media companies block Russian websites then
these social media websites will be blocked in Russia.
Another of the new laws introduces hefty fines of up to 20% of their previous year's Russia-based turnover for sites that repeatedly fail to remove content banned in Russia.
Russian lawmakers have moved a step closer to allowing state censors to block Internet platforms like Facebook and YouTube if they are deemed to have censored content produced by Russians.
Russia's lower house of parliament, which passed draft
legislation in a third reading, said in a media release that authorities can target platforms if they have been found to limit information based on nationality and language. The lower house State Duma added that Internet websites could also be sanctioned
in the event of discrimination against the content of Russian media.
The legislation now needs to get approval from the upper house Federation Council before President Vladimir Putin signs it into law .
Russian lawmakers have announced plans to block any internet services deemed to censor local media. The move seems targeted at US social media companies that have been blocking content from Russian internet sources.
The US internet internet companies
have been labelling Russian content as fake news and propaganda. In particular the move came a day after state media regulator Roskomnadzor demanded YouTube remove restrictions supposedly placed on programmes produced by the prominent state TV
propagandist Vladimir Solovyev.
The legislation would grant authorities conditional powers to block access to sites such as Youtube , Twitter and Facebook -- either fully or partially.
The bill seems almost certain to pass after attracting the
public support of the Kremlin.