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Russia restricts Twitter speed over failure to remove banned content

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Russia’s communications watchdog said it would slow down the speed of Twitter in the country for failing to delete banned content, escalating its crackdown on internet freedoms.

The regulator, Roskomnadzor, said Wednesday that it would limit the speed of the service on all cellphones and half of stationary devices, such as desktop computers, beginning March 10. The agency said it could block Twitter entirely if it failed to remove banned content linked to suicide, pornography and drugs.

The move against the platform, which is used by Kremlin opposition activists, follows a warning by the regulator earlier this month that if the company doesn’t remove the content it could face fines of $100,000 or more. It comes in the aftermath of a wave of protests last month following the detention of opposition politician Alexei Navalny.

“In order to protect Russian citizens and force the internet service to comply with the legislation on the territory of the Russian Federation, centralized response measures have been taken against Twitter, namely, the primary slowdown of the service speed,” Roskomnadzor said, adding that there were more than 3,000 posts containing illegal content on the platform.

Twitter is the sixth biggest social media site in Russia and widely used by opposition figures including Alexei Navalny, who was jailed in January on his return to Russia after treatment for a poisoning attack in Siberia.

President Putin recently gave the media watchdog the power to block social media platforms if they ‘discriminated’ against Russian media. Roskomnadzor warned Twitter in its statement that if it failed to delete 3,000 posts containing ‘illegal’ material then it could be blocked entirely.

 

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