Russian court fines TikTok for failing to remove LGBT material, Twitch on Ukrainian content


A Russian court on Tuesday fined TikTok for failing to remove LGBT material, the country’s latest crackdown on Big Tech companies.

The Tagansky District Court in Moscow has fined the short-video sharing platform 3 million rubles (€51,000) following a complaint from Russian regulators.

TikTok, which is owned by China’s ByteDance, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to the filing, state communications regulator Roskomnadzor complained about a video posted on the platform earlier this year that breaks russian laws against promoting “LGBT, radical feminism and a distorted view of traditional sexual relationships”.

The Russian government has stepped up its efforts to impose greater control over the internet and social media, imposing content sanctions, data storage requirements and some outright bans.

Earlier this year, a court fined chat service WhatsApp and dying messaging platform Snapchat for failing to store Russian user data on local servers, following complaints from Roskomnadzor.

Music streaming service Spotify and Match Group, which owns dating app Tinder, have also been hit with Russian fines.

Twitch also fined for Ukrainian content

On Tuesday, Russia also fined Amazon-owned streaming service Twitch for hosting a video interview with a Ukrainian politician that Moscow said contained “false” information.

Twitch was already fined 3 million rubles (€51,000) earlier this year for hosting another Arestovych interview. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Russia passed a law in early March, shortly after sending tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine, that prohibits “discrediting” the armed forces, with a penalty of up to 15 years. Foreign technology companies have been warned against violating this law.

TASS reported on Tuesday that Twitch faces two new fines of up to 8 million rubles (€135,000) for failing to remove what Russia considers unreliable information about the conduct of its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

Russia is considering expanding its existing “gay propaganda” law, passed in 2013, which prohibits any person or entity from promoting same-sex relationships with children. Lawmakers have argued that the law should be expanded to also include adults and that fines for exposing minors to “LGBT propaganda” should be increased.

Russian authorities say they are defending morality in the face of what they see as anti-Russian liberal values ​​promoted by the West, but human rights activists say the law has been widely applied to intimidate the Russian LGBT community.

Separately, the Wikimedia Foundation, which hosts the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, also faces a fine of 4 million rubles (€68,000) for failing to remove “fakes” about the Russian military, RIA reported.

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