Despite American tech giants continuing to censor Russians, blocking Facebook & Twitter ‘not our way,’ says leading Moscow senator

Moscow may be on a collision course with US-based networking conglomerates over perceived restrictions on Russian content, but its officials aren’t about to pull the plug on platforms in return, the country’s top senator has said.

Valentina Matvienko, the chairwoman of the Federation Council, told RIA Novosti on Tuesday that authorities “can’t help but worry about how internet giants are conducting themselves.” In recent months, Moscow has warned of a series of blocks and bans against accounts and sites deemed to be linked to Russia. However, she added, blocking these networks is “not our way.”

“It is impossible to put up an ‘electronic wall’ along the entire border, deprive citizens of their usual opportunities to use the necessary amount of information, and so on,” she said.

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There had previously been speculation that the country could revoke the rights of platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to operate after a senior and influential senator, Alexey Pushkov, set out tough new proposals earlier this month. According to him, a special panel on information policy “considers it necessary to strengthen Russian legislation in order to stop the use of social networks mobilizing citizens for illegal actions.”

Pushkov claimed that their sites and apps have become a source of calls for riots, incitement to commit illegal actions – such as those that pose a threat to the lives and health of other citizens – as well as unreliable information disseminated under the guise of factual messages.

At the start of the year, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that tech companies are making decisions about what content to allow, and what to censor, based on their own bottom line, rather than the social consequences. “These platforms are, of course, primarily businesses… and what is the primary concern of a business? Making a profit,” he said.

Russia already has tough rules requiring providers to store data relating to domestic users on servers within the country, which previously led to the banning of LinkedIn, a popular professional networking site.

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