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Article

12 Mar 2022

Author:
Greg Miller & Joseph Menn, The Washington Post

Russia: Govt. threats & intimidation of tech companies negatively affecting free expresson; incl. co. comments

"Putin's prewar moves against U.S. tech giants laid groundwork for crackdown on free expression," 12 March 2022

Putin… intensified… a broader campaign… last year to erode sources of internal opposition… [including] bring[ing] foreign technology companies to heel. Moscow deployed new devices that let it degrade or even block Russians’ access to Facebook and Twitter, imposed fines totaling $120 million on firms accused of defying Kremlin censors, and ordered 13 of the world’s largest technology companies to keep employees in Russia and thus exposed to potential arrest or other punishment for their employers’ actions.

… Facebook and Twitter have been knocked offline by the government for millions of Russians. News outlets that survived state harassment for years shut down this month in the face of a new law imposing prison time of up to 15 years for spreading “fake” news.

… American technology companies have used their power to add to the pressure on Putin… [b]ut… have also made numerous compromises with the Kremlin in recent years that have undermined activist groups, impaired Russians’ access to reliable information… Apple is also yet to give Russian users access to a new security tool, Private Relay, that could help Russians reach foreign news coverage and other content deemed illegal by the government… Apple… declined to answer questions... or comment for this article. Google did not directly respond to questions, but referred The Post to a website where the company lists its responses to the Ukraine crisis.

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