Russian lawmakers pass bill to block social media websites that discriminate against Russian media

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Russia’s lower house of parliament voted and approved a range of measures on Wednesday to block or restrict any website that “discriminates” against Russian media on their sites— including blocking websites like YouTube and Twitter if they “discriminate” against Russian media.

The lawmakers cited complaints from Russian media outlets RT and the RIA news agency about what they described as the “censorship” of their accounts on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, according to Reuters.

One bill would allow for the blocking of foreign websites that it says “discriminate” against Russian media.

A second bill would allow it to impose heavy fines on companies that refuse to take down content banned in the country.

A third bill would establish prison terms for any person convicted of making slanderous comments online or in the media. A person found guilty of slander could face up to two years in prison and be fined up to 1 million rubles (about $13,300), according to reports.

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If the above bills become law as expected, then Russia could block websites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter if any content in the websites as described above go against the new law. Russian authorities can block or slow down such websites.

Twitter has been angering Russia since August by labeling the accounts of several Russian media outlets with the description “state-affiliated”, along with those of their senior staff and some key government officials, according to Reuters. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has called for Russia to come up with its own social media platforms to gain greater control, NPR reported.