More than 20 organizations for the protection of the rights of Internet users from France, the USA, Russia, Azerbaijan and other countries called on the world's largest IT companies to oppose the attempts of the Russian authorities to carry out political censorship on the Internet.
An open letter addressed to the management of Apple, Facebook, Google, Yandex, Twitter and other large IT companies, as well as to Russian Internet providers, has been published on the website of the human rights organization Access Now.
Peter Misek, General Counsel for Access Now, called on the leaders of the IT industry to resist the attempts of the Russian authorities to block citizens' access to alternative sources of information and “stifle millions of votes in this election.” “We urge private companies to do what Russian officials will not do – stand up for human rights,” wrote Peter Misek. – Facebook, Twitter, this message is for you: put your human rights policy into action and say no to the attempts of an authoritarian regime to silence millions of people in this election. People in Russia depend on you. “
Thus, IT giants were called on to oppose blocking of opposition political resources, as well as to notify their audience about attempts by the authorities to persuade these companies to cooperate in order to implement political censorship on the Internet.
Human rights activists from Access Now also prepared and published a reminder for journalists and civic activists in case the Internet goes out during the elections.
Ahead of the elections to the State Duma and other authorities, which are scheduled for September 17-19, the Russian authorities launched an unprecedented campaign to block opposition political resources and websites of independent media. So after the announcement of the extremist structures of opposition politician Alexei Navalny, such as the Anti-Corruption Fund, Smart Vote and Navalny's headquarters, Roskomnadzor blocked about 50 websites, including the personal pages of former employees of these organizations and the people who supported them.
In addition, the department demanded that Apple and Google remove from their stores of mobile applications the Navalny application, created by the politician's team and containing the Smart Voting function. At the same time, the very phrase “Smart Voting” in an unprecedentedly short time was registered as a trademark by a Stavropol company that trades in sheep wool. Then, in record time, the court considered the company's claim against the search engines Yandex and Google and banned the latter from displaying search results for the words “smart voting”.
Yandex obeyed the court decision, although it announced its intention to appeal it, and Google did not comply with these requirements for which it was fined over 32 million rubles “for not removing prohibited content.” And on September 14, bailiffs came to the Russian office of Google in Moscow, but met with resistance in the person of the only employee who recommended the bailiffs to contact the head office of the company directly.
The total amount of fines “for not removing prohibited content” imposed on Facebook since the beginning of the year exceeds 80 million rubles, Twitter – about 60 million, Telegram – 40 million. At the same time, by the end of the month, new court sessions are to be held, where new fines will be considered.