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Russia calls for global efforts to fight Big Tech’s arbitrariness on the Internet

Speaker of the Russian State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin said that the problem is ripe to be discussed in international formats

MOSCOW, March 8. /TASS/. Fighting Big Tech’s arbitrariness in the Internet and protection of the countries’ digital sovereignty need to be discussed on the international level, Speaker of the Russian State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin said on Monday.

"The problem is ripe to be discussed in international formats. It concerns adjusting national legislation, preparing model laws in order to respect the rights and freedoms of citizens, as well as to ensure digital sovereignty," Volodin said as quoted on the website of the State Duma on Monday. The State Duma is the lower house of the Russian parliament.

The Chairman of the State Duma recalled that many states, in particular Italy, Australia, India and other countries, are now developing proposals "to combat the lawlessness of global IT companies, up to the most serious measures of responsibility."

"This topic will be a priority on the agenda of the coming international meetings, where we will exchange proposals on solving this problem with colleagues from other countries," he summed up.

The lawmaker was commenting on the recent decision of the Facebook social network to block access to information materials of a number of Russian media outlets, including the TASS agency. The Speaker of the State Duma stressed that this was not the first time when a social network violates "the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens, the right to disseminate and receive information." Previously, Instagram and Twitter did the same.

"I think that this is unacceptable. This violates our national legislation. We will come up with legislative solutions that would not let this happen in relation to the Russian media," Volodin said.

About blocking

Facebook has blocked a TASS post about the detention of supporters of a Ukrainian radical youth group in Russia’s Voronezh as "fake" news.

The post was written on the basis of an official press statement from the Federal Security Service and the Investigative Committee. TASS insists that it put the information correctly and plans to request Facebook explanations on the matter. Apart from that, the agency plans to ask the federal oversight service in the sphere information and communications technologies and the mass media to consider this situation.

The TASS news item of February 18 says that Russia’s Federal Security Service nipped the activities of supporters of a Ukrainian radical youth group involved in propaganda of the ideology of neo-Nazism and massacre.

Facebook said the post had been cancelled at a request from the Ukrainian fact-checking service StopFake.

In March 2016, Facebook began to test various engines to combat fake news. Its menu was supplemented with an option of reporting a potentially fake news. Such posts are referred for verification to third-party organizations.

On March 27, 2020, Facebook launched a content fact-checking program in Ukraine. Ukrainian organizations VoxCheck and StopFake were chosen as partners.

The editorial staff of TASS intends to ask Facebook for clarification, as well as to draw the attention of the Federal Communications, IT and Media Watchdog to the situation.

The publications regarding the same news by RBC, Vedomosti, and the NTV channel also faced restrictions on Facebook.