Russian communications regulator Roskomnadzor on Sunday asked Meta’s firm Facebook to restore the page related to the Russian State delegation of Vienna involved in Iran’s 2015 nuclear arms control negotiation deal. The page, affiliated with the Russian Foreign Ministry, was abruptly taken down on Sunday for allegedly publishing “illegal content”. Roskomnadzor dispatched a letter to the US-based firm accusing the fundamental rules of free access to information and called it an act of censorship, according to Russia’s state-affiliated news agency Sputnik.
“On January 16, Roskomnadzor issued a letter to the American company Meta Platforms, which owns the Facebook social network, demanding it immediately lift all restrictions from the official account of the Russian delegation to the military security and arms control talks in Vienna and provide explanations concerning the reasons for such restrictions,” the Russian agency’s statement to Meta read on Sunday.
Roskomnadzor slammed ‘act of censorship’
Meta had earlier cited the prohibited content and violation of its community standards as the reason for blocking the Russian delegation’s account. Russia demanded Meta immediately unblock the page that puts out critical updates on military security and arms control talks. “Roskomnadzor slams it as an act of censorship, which is banned by the Russian constitution,” the agency said. Just last month, in a legal tussle with Russia over controversial social media regulation laws, Facebook paid 17 million roubles (Rs 1.7 Crore) for failing to remove content deemed illegal by Moscow.
With a threat of potential larger fines looming, Facebook parent company Meta, owned by Mark Zuckerberg, also had to appear in the court over repeated violations of Russian legislation on content, Interfax News Agency reported. The US based social media giant risks a penalty of a large chunk of its annual revenue. Apart from Meta, Telegram also recently incurred an estimated 5 million roubles in fines from Russian authorities for failing to comply with Moscow’s social media legislations that came into force in 2016. Russia’s internet watchdog had also legally dragged Whatsapp, who it said failed to abide by the rules for storing data of Russian users on domestic servers. WhatsApp was fined four million rubles in a first-time law breach of law case, Russia’s Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor) had at the time confirmed in a statement.