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Russia to apply search engine disclaimers to five foreign IT firms

  • This content was produced in Russia where the law limits coverage of Russian military operations in Ukraine

MOSCOW, Aug 19 (Reuters) – Russia’s communications regulator said on Friday it was taking punitive action against five foreign IT companies for breaking online content laws, which could force search engines to include a Disclaimer of Violations.

The regulator, Roskomnadzor, said it was imposing measures against ByteDance’s TikTok, messaging service Telegram, Zoom Video Communications (ZM.O), chat tool Discord and Pinterest (PINS.N).

In a statement, Roskomnadzor said the measures were in response to companies’ failure to remove content they had flagged as illegal and would remain in place until they complied.

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None of the companies immediately responded to written requests for comment.

Roskomnadzor did not specify precisely what measures would be taken. The dominant search engine Yandex (YNDX.O) in Russia already has a disclaimer for some other websites which reads: “Roskomnadzor: website violates Russian law”.

“Roskomnadzor has decided to apply enforcement measures (…) in the form of informing Internet users by search engines about violations of Russian legislation by companies,” the regulator said.

Russia has fined several tech companies, mostly foreign, for failing to remove content it deems illegal. He also warned the sites against violating a law passed in early March that prohibits “discrediting” the armed forces, with a penalty of up to 15 years.

On Tuesday, Russian courts fined Amazon (AMZN.O) live streaming unit Twitch ($33,900) and Telegram 11 million rubles for hosting content that , according to Moscow, contained “false” information about events in Ukraine.

Russian lawmakers in July approved a bill that would provide tougher penalties for foreign internet companies, including the disclaimer of search engines. Read more

($1 = 59.0000 rubles)

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Reuters Editing reporting by Tomasz Janowski and Frances Kerry

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