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Twitter ‘systematically’ ignores Russian law: official

February 10, 2015

Russia on Tuesday accused Twitter of ignoring its data queries, following reports by the company about increasing demands by Moscow to silence its critics.

“Twitter systematically does not comply with the demands of Russian legislation,” said Alexander Zharov, the head of media watchdog Roskomnadzor that oversees the Internet.

Zharov complained that while Twitter follows through on demands lodged by the US government, Russia’s requests for personal information of the platform’s users go unanswered.

“Roskomnadzor wonders how acceptable such a position is for a company that works on Russian territory,” he was quoted as saying by Russian agencies.

Twitter this week published its transparency report, saying Russia made 108 requests for information in the second half of 2014, all of which were denied.

The United States made 1622 similar requests, 80 percent of which were complied with.

Russia also made 91 requests to remove accounts – second only to Turkey which made 477.

Twitter said the “increasing” number of requests included those based on the notoriously vague “extremism” law which is frequently used to prosecute the opposition and stem mass demonstrations.

“We denied several requests to silence popular critics of the Russian government and other demands to limit speech about non-violent demonstrations in Ukraine,” Twitter said.

Russian authorities repeatedly demanded that Twitter block “extremist” content and Zharov has accused the platform of “using bloggers for political ends”, threatening to ban it altogether.

A recent law also requires all bloggers with 3,000 daily readers or more to register as a media publication and adhere to stricter rules.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.