May 17, 2022

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Netflix and TikTok ban services in Russia to avoid repression

Netflix and TikTok ban services in Russia to avoid repression

Netflix and TikTok suspended most of their services in Russia on Sunday as the government cracks down on what people and the media can say about Russia’s war in Ukraine..

Pulling the plug on online entertainment and information is likely to further isolate the country and its people after a growing number of multinational companies They cut off Russia from vital financial services, technology, and a variety of consumer products in response to Western economic sanctions and global outrage over the invasion of Ukraine.

US credit card companies Visa, Mastercard and American Express all said over the weekend that they would cut service in Russia. South Korea’s Samsung Electronics, a major supplier of both smartphones and computer chips, said it would halt shipments of products to the country, joining other big tech companies like Apple, Microsoft, Intel and Dell.

Two of the so-called Big Four accounting firms said on Sunday they had cut ties with the country. KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers are both terminating their relationships with member companies in Russia, which each employ thousands of people.

Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov, called on US tech companies to do more on Sunday to respond to Russia. He tweeted open letters asking Apple and Google to close their app stores in Russia, and asking Amazon and Microsoft to suspend their cloud computing services.

Internet-based service and application providers have often been reluctant to take actions that could deprive Russian citizens of social media services and other sources of information.

That changed on Friday when Russian President Vladimir Putin intensified his crackdown On media and individuals who do not adhere to the Kremlin’s line on the war, they block Facebook and Twitter and sign a bill criminalizing the intentional publication of what Moscow considers “fake” reports.

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Netflix did not specify a reason for the suspension of services on Sunday other than to say it reflects “conditions on the ground.” The company said earlier that it would refuse to broadcast Russian state TV channels.

TikTok said that Russian users of its popular social media app will no longer be able to post new videos or live streams and also won’t be able to view shared videos from anywhere else in the world.

“In light of Russia’s new ‘fake news’ law, we have no choice but to suspend live broadcasts and new content on our video service while the security implications of this law are reviewed,” TikTok said in a statement on Twitter. The in-app messaging service will not be affected.

TikTok spokeswoman Hilary McQuaid said that the TikTok app in Russia is now in “view only” mode and will not allow people to post or watch new videos or live streams. She said they can still watch the old videos, but not if they are from outside the country.

“Employee safety is our top priority,” she said, adding that the video-sharing service – part of China-based technology company ByteDance – did not want to put its Russian employees or users at risk of severe criminal penalties. Some of the protesters who took to the streets in Moscow, Saint Petersburg and other Russian cities to denounce the invasion of Ukraine have used social media platforms to spread their cause.

A new “fake news” law, quickly approved by both houses of the Kremlin-controlled parliament and signed by Putin, imposes prison terms of up to 15 years for those who spread information that contradicts the Russian government’s version of the war.

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Several news outlets have also said they will pause their work inside Russia to assess the situation. Russian authorities have repeatedly denounced reports of Russian military setbacks or civilian deaths in Ukraine as “fake” news. State media refers to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a “special military operation” rather than a war or invasion.

The law provides penalties of up to three years or fines for publishing what authorities consider false news about the military, but the maximum penalty is up to 15 years for cases believed to have led to “serious consequences”.

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Follow AP’s coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine