MOSCOW-Russian government Internet censors threatened that if Apple and Google do not delete apps developed by imprisoned opposition leaders, they will impose fines‘steam.The app urges Russian voters to defeat the president The ruling party is in the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Navalny’s movement is officialRussian authorities this summer placed him and his supporters in the same position as Al Qaeda and the Taliban in the eyes of Russian law. In February, Navalny was arrested immediately after returning to Russia from Germany, where he spent months recovering from a poisoning attack that he and US officials accused Putin himself ordered.
His imprisonment triggered large-scale protests across the country, leading to thousands of arrests.
According to Interfax News Agency’s report on Thursday, the examiner Roskomnadzor told Apple and Google that the “Smart Voting” application must be removed from their application stores on the grounds that the Navalny organization behind it has been designated as an extremist organization.
If the company does not comply, Moscow “may also consider [it] Interfering in the Russian elections as a US company,” the article said.
As of Friday, neither platform has removed the application.
Target dissent by fines for large tech companies
These requirements are only the latest test for Western technology giants, as the Moscow authorities continue to demand compliance with controversial legislation that gives the Kremlin greater and greater control over the Internet and everything on Russia.
Fines for Western Internet companies have piled up because many refused to comply with the new law, including requiring all Russian users’ data to be stored on Russian servers in the country. If Russia’s special service requirements, service providers share decryption keys, so they can Check the encrypted user data.
According to a report on Internet freedom in Russia made by an advocacy organization, Facebook has been fined nearly 600,000 U.S. dollars, followed by Google, which owes about 383,000 U.S. dollars so far. Reporters Without Borders.
According to reports, on the eve of the parliamentary elections in September, most opposition candidates have been disqualified, and the Russian authorities’ pressure on international online platforms has increased significantly.
Reporters Without Borders noted that most of the penalties for Internet services that “allow minors to participate in protests” are targeted at Western technology platforms, while other services, such as TikTok in China and the Russian version of Facebook, VKontakte, are affected to a greater degree. Much smaller.
Internet freedom advocacy organization Roskomsvoboda said that in the past two years, Russian authorities have increasingly used Internet restrictions as “a tool to combat opposition information or socio-political sources” and as a means of surveillance.
In July, Roskomnadzor banned more than 40 websites and services related to the Navalny Movement. In March of this year, Internet censors issued warnings to popular virtual private network (VPN) services that allow Russians to access banned content, filter their traffic, or risk being banned in the country.
The vast majority of services, including NordVPN, ProtonVPN, TorGuard, etc., were rejected on the grounds of privacy issues.
On Friday, when President Putin delivered a speech at a business group in Vladivostok, many foreign investors attended via video links, and the censors announced that they would block six popular VPNs in Russia.
However, some services can bypass the ban, and it is not clear how effective these restrictions are.
The Russian Internet regulator tried to block the popular messaging app Telegram for two years, but failed, but eventually restored full access. Authorities have threatened to ban Twitter in the past, but they seem to choose to just slow down the site’s traffic. Many people think this is a warning to platforms that have more users in the country, such as Google and Facebook.
Putin “has no time” to engage in technology
Putin has made “digitalization” one of the priorities of the Russian economy. But the former spy is also known for his dislike of the Internet. He himself did not show up on social networks, not even a mobile phone.
On Wednesday, while visiting an elementary school in Vladivostok, a boy asked Putin to register his YouTube eco-channel, which puzzled the president.
“What am I going to sign?” Putin asked. “I don’t understand—what do I have to sign?”
His answer provoked laughter from the children in the audience, and the 10-year-old went on to explain that YouTube is a social media platform. (You can watch the exchange, Here on youtube.)
“Ah, yes,” Putin replied. “To your channel? Okay, I will consider it.”
The Kremlin commented on the exchange, explaining that President Putin “does not have time to post on social media” and does not want anyone to post for him.