15 september, 2020
Western social media firms and IT corporations must open representative offices in the Russian Federation and we must support domestic developers
Author: Alexander Malkevich, no comments
The American corporation Apple will remove the applications “Russia 1”, “Russia TV and Radio”, “Vesti fm” and “Vesti.ru” from its AppStore in Ukraine. At the same time, Apple, having notified the All-Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK) about the deletion of these applications, cited the reason as an official demand from Ukraine’s security services.
Let us recall that in July 2014, Ukraine banned the rebroadcasting of several Russian TV channels, including those that are part of VGTRK holding. Subsequently, the National Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine banned several dozen more Russian TV channels from broadcasting in the country, including channels for kids!
Let us not talk about why a giant corporation such as Apple should listen to the instructions/wishes/letters of the defense and law enforcement agencies of a small country.
Let us talk about something else in connection with this. I have already stressed more than once that today Russia is facing discrimination in the information sphere from Western social media platforms. At the same time, almost all social networks and foreign information resources do not have legal representative offices in the Russian Federation.
I propose several specific actions in regard to this problem. Below is my manifesto; I will promote these provisions at the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation and submit them to the deputies of the State Duma for early enforcement.
Russia must introduce a law on self-regulation of social media platforms as soon as possible. I have also voiced this position many times. The law should define a clear framework for social media firms in terms of regulating prohibited and extremist content.
I have already cited the example of Turkey which passed a law obliging social media firms to open representative offices in the country and comply with government requirements to block or remove content. According to the ‘Russian Orientalist’ telegram channel, the law obliges social media companies, which have more than a million Turkish users, to open a representative office in the country and comply with the instructions of Turkish law enforcement officers, i.e. to delete posts and disclose information on demand, as well as pay fines in case of posting illegal content.
A similar law has also been passed in Germany. The time has come for Russia to introduce a corresponding draft bill that would directly oblige Western social media platforms and all IT corporations operating on the Russian market to have offices here. Moreover, a representative office should be headed by a citizen of the Russian Federation, and companies need to work within the Russian legal sphere, pay taxes and interact with all the relevant agencies in our country in terms of protecting the rights of Russian users.
What is more, the state should provide maximum support, not necessarily financial, to Russian developers. Indeed, today we are in dire need of new additional services, start-ups, IT platforms, messengers and video hosting services – first of all we need alternatives. I have also talked about the need to create Russian alternatives earlier.
I hope that the State Duma deputies will listen to the civil society sector during the autumn session.
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