Laws of the Week: January 2021 saw two new laws enter into force that enable government censorship of social media

Week-ending 5 February 2021

As Human Rights Watch has reported, on 10 January 2021 a new law (Federal Law 511-FZ) entered into force, introducing fines of up to 10% of a company’s annual revenue for websites that fail to block ‘illegal’ content. On 1 February 2021, another law entered into force, obliging large social media networks to take down content deemed illegal under the Russian law. On 20 January 2021, Roskomnadzor, the state body for media oversight, issued warnings to TikTok and VKontakte over content that allegedly calls on children (i.e. under 18) to participate in protests. On 27 January 2021 Roskomnadzor announced fines for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, VKontakte, Odnoklassniki, and YouTube for failing to block a total of 170 posts with allegedly illegal calls to action. On 28 January 2021 President Vladimir Putin announced the government had until August 1 to create a set of additional rules for foreign tech companies operating in Russia.


Federal Law No. 511-FZ of 30 December 2020: Федеральный закон от 30.12.2020 N 511-ФЗ “О внесении изменений в Кодекс Российской Федерации об административных правонарушениях”

Federal Law No. 530-FZ of 30 December 2020: Федеральный закон от 30.12.2020 № 530-ФЗ “О внесении изменений в Федеральный закон “Об информации, информационных технологиях и о защите информации”

Human Rights Watch: Russian authorities are escalating pressure on social media companies, forcing them to censor online content deemed illegal by the government, Human Rights Watch said today. Social media platforms have received warnings and face fines and potential blocking for failure to comply with Russia’s rapidly growing oppressive internet legislation. The authorities’ demands for censorship have followed recent waves of mass protests throughout Russia, expressing outrage over government corruption and the imprisonment of the political opposition figure Alexei Navalny. Law enforcement arbitrarily detained at least 10,000 people, including peaceful protesters, passers-by, and journalists. Local human rights groups reported numerous cases of police brutality.

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