Throttling of Twitter in Russia
What Does it Mean for the Future of Russia's Internet Policy
March 17, 2021
On March 16 Russia's Internet watchdog Roskomnadzor (RKN) stated that it is ready to impose a full blocking on Twitter in Russia within one month should it fail to comply with online content takedown laws.

This follows RKN's earlier decision to start throttling the loading speed for Twitter from March 10th in order to punish the company for what it claims had been "malicious and consistent non-compliance" with Russian legislation.

The move, exercised by RKN under the guidance of the Presidential Administration, was substantiated by a significant number of content takedown requests from 2017 onwards (approx. 3000 - most of them related to illegal content), which RKN says Twitter has ignored.

The throttling of Twitter - the first such penalty imposed on a global tech platform in Russia since the blocking of LinkedIn in 2016 - seems to have several goals:

  • Political goals - (1) testing the platform's reaction to throttling / threat of blocking and its readiness for concessions to the regulator under pressure and (2) sending a signal to other platforms with more significant business in Russia that RKN is ready to take decisive measures if needed;
  • Technical goals - testing the DPI equipment and procedure of website throttling / blocking set by the so-called Sovereign Internet Law - this is the first case when the procedure prescribed by this law has been used;
  • Additionally, RKN's own interest is to prove its ability to successfully restrict access to a global platform without significant collateral damage after its failure blocking Telegram in 2016.
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