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Tech giants TikTok and Netflix suspend services in Russia over its ‘fake news’ laws

TikTok and Netflix have become the latest tech giants to suspend services in Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.

Social media company TikTok announced on Sunday that it was suspending the publication of all video content from Russia to ensure the safety of its employees and to comply with the country’s new “fake news” regulations, while Netflix, which earlier this week said it was suspending future projects. in the country, has now suspended his service.

“In light of Russia’s new ‘fake news’ law, we have no choice but to suspend live streaming and new content from our video service while we consider the implications of this law on security,” TikTok said in a Twitter post, adding that its in-app messaging service will not be affected.

“We will continue to assess the evolving circumstances in Russia to determine when we can fully resume our services with safety as the top priority.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday signed into law a bill providing for prison sentences of up to 15 years for publishing “false information” about the Russian military.

Netflix said, “Given the circumstances on the ground, we have decided to suspend our service in Russia.” The streaming giant has around one million subscribers in the country.

It comes after Russia blocked the BBC’s World News channel on Sunday, prompting the company to issue instructions on how to circumvent the country’s ban on its reporting.

The Russian government has restricted independent and foreign news as part of a news blackout following its invasion of Ukraine, including blocking the websites of the BBC and its World News Channel from broadcasting in the country.

At lunchtime on Sunday, BBC World News presenter Victoria Derbyshire told viewers: “BBC World News, the channel you watch if you’re outside the UK at the moment, and who’s the BBC’s global television news channel, has just been axed in Russia.”

A spokesperson said: ”We can confirm that as of Saturday BBC World News is unavailable in Russia.

“Access denied to unbiased information”

“We regret that our Russian audiences are being denied access to reliable and unbiased information at a time when they need it most.”

The suspension of the company’s global channel follows a ban on the BBC’s website last week.

In response to the crackdown, the BBC issued instructions on how to use anonymous browsers and mobile phone apps designed to circumvent censorship.

He encouraged people to use Tor, a computer software designed to hide the location and identify the details of people browsing the internet.

The software has a dedicated BBC site that users can access through mobile phone apps, including Tor Browser or Onion Browser, both of which can be downloaded from the Apple or Google app stores.

Tor, originally developed by the US Naval Research Laboratory, has made headlines due to its use for illicit purposes such as drug trafficking on the “dark web”.

But it is also a valuable tool for people in countries that monitor and control online communications, allowing them to access censored sources of information.

The BBC initially launched its Tor service in 2019, including foreign language services in Russian, Persian and Arabic. Countries like China, Iran and Vietnam have previously blocked access to the company’s journalism.

Shortwave broadcasts

The BBC has also relaunched its shortwave radio service, widely used during World War II and the Cold War, with the aim of reaching people trying to access news from inside Ukraine or the Russia.

Shortwave broadcasts can travel long distances and be accessible from portable radios, making them ideal for wartime news. The company dropped its shortwave channel in 2008 as listeners shifted to satellite and digital sources, but relaunched it in response to the dispute.

BBC bosses on Friday said they were “temporarily suspending” the work of journalists in Russia as part of a crackdown on free speech that has made it a crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison for broadcasting news. “fake” or “fake” news about the war in Ukraine.

Tim Davie, director general of the BBC, said the legislation “appears to criminalize the process of independent journalism”.

He said the company’s Russian-language service would continue to operate from outside Russia.

US media CNN and CBS News said they would stop broadcasting in the country while other publications said they would remove reporters’ bylines to protect them.