Russian court fines TikTok for not deleting LGBT material, Twitch over Ukraine content

The US head office of TikTok is shown in Culver City, California, U.S., September 15, 2020
The US head office of TikTok is shown in Culver City, California, U.S., September 15, 2020 Copyright REUTERS/Mike Blake
Copyright REUTERS/Mike Blake
By Euronews with AP & Reuters
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The fines mark the latest step in Moscow's long-running dispute with Big Tech.


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

The Tagansky District Court in Moscow issued the 3 million rouble (€51,000) penalty to the short-video sharing platform following a complaint by Russian regulators.

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

According to the case file, state communications regulator Roskomnadzor complained about a video published on the platform earlier this year that breaches Russian laws against promoting "LGBT, radical feminism and a distorted view on traditional sexual relations”.

The Russian government has been stepping up efforts to enforce greater control over the internet and social media, issuing penalties over content, demands over data storage and some outright bans.

Earlier this year, a court fined chat service WhatsApp and disappearing message platform Snapchat for failing to store Russian users’ data on local servers, following complaints by Roskomnadzor.

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

Twitch also fined over Ukraine content

On Tuesday, Russia also fined streaming service Twitch, which is owned by Amazon, for hosting a video interview with a Ukrainian political figure that Moscow said contained "fake" information.

Twitch was already fined 3 million roubles (€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, soon after sending tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine, that prohibits "discrediting" the armed forces, with a sentence of up to 15 years. Foreign tech firms have been warned against violating that law.

TASS reported on Tuesday that Twitch faces two new fines of up to 8 million roubles (€135,000) for not deleting what Russia considers unreliable information about the course of its "special military operation" in Ukraine.

Russia is considering expanding its existing "gay propaganda" law, passed in 2013, which bans any person or entity from promoting homosexual relationships to children. Lawmakers have argued the law should be expanded to include adults as well and fines for exposing minors to "LGBT propaganda" should be increased.

Russian authorities say they are defending morality in the face of what they argue are un-Russian liberal values promoted by the West, but human rights activists say the law has been broadly applied to intimidate Russia's LGBT community.

Separately, the Wikimedia Foundation, which hosts online encyclopaedia Wikipedia, also faces a 4 million rouble (€68,000) fine for not deleting "fakes" about the Russian army, RIA reported.

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