7 Jun 2021 17:54

Twitter users sue Roskomnadzor for illegality of slowing traffic

MOSCOW. June 7 (Interfax) - Head of Moscow's Krasnoselsky municipal district Ilya Yashin, opposition activist Yevgeny Domozhirov, photographer Yevgeny Feldman, and Moscow municipal deputy Vadim Korovin have filed a joint lawsuit against the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor) due to the slowdown of Twitter .

The claim was filed with Moscow's Tagansky District Court, senior partner for the Network Freedoms project and attorney Stanislav Seleznyov, who represents the plaintiffs, told Interfax.

The plaintiffs ask the court to compel Roskomnadzor "to cease the use of centralized response measures in the form of slowing the speed and other restrictions on the operation of Twitter," and to oblige the telecoms regulator to "exclude the service from the list of threats to the stability, security, and integrity of the functioning of the Internet and public communication networks in Russia."

"We believe it is necessary to check the legality and the existence of grounds for the use of the new Roskomnadzor technology, which affects a large number of users. Moreover, the regulator declares its intention to apply the slowdown in relation to other social networks," Seleznyov told Interfax.

According to the plaintiffs, "they have never published illegal content, did not call for violence, and did not justify violence or discrimination."

The lawsuit also emphasizes that the plaintiffs were in no way associated with the account holders responsible for posting the allegedly prohibited information on Twitter.

"Thus, interference in the routine operation of the Twitter service by Roskomnadzor in the form of slowing access to the entire service for all users throughout Russia constitutes an interference with the right of the administrative plaintiffs to freely express their opinion," the plaintiffs said.

"The rights of each of the plaintiffs are largely affected by the current restrictions, since the publication of media files constitutes a significant part of their communication with the audience," Seleznyov said.

At present, Interfax has no comments from Roskomnadzor on the claim.

On March 10, 2021, Roskomnadzor began to centrally slow the speed of Twitter in Russia on all mobile devices and half of stationary PCs, as the social network was not deleting, despite numerous demands from the telecoms regulator, content containing information on suicide, narcotics, and pornography, as well as calls for minors to participate in unauthorized mass events, as well as extremist and other materials banned in Russia.

Two months later, on May 17 the regulator said that Twitter had deleted 91% of banned content. The Russian regulator positively assessed the social media platform's efforts to remove unlawful materials and lifted restrictions on access to it on stationary PCs (fixed-line networks and the Wi-Fi networks connected to them), but is continuing to slow its operation on mobile devices.

At the same time, Twitter has been fined almost 28 million rubles in Russia for the failure to remove illegal content in line with the court rulings.