Russia Votes: Big Tech Must Keep The Internet Open And Secure During Elections


As Russia prepares for the September
17 — 19 legislative elections
, and
authorities tighten their grip on freedom of expression
online, Access Now and the #KeepItOn coalition are demanding
social media giants stand up for human rights, and resist
government orders to shutdown and censor internet platforms,
applications, and services.

“We are calling on
private companies to do what government officials in Russia
will not — take a stand for human rights,” said
Peter Micek, General Counsel at Access Now.
“Facebook, Twitter, this is a message for you: put your
human rights policies into action, and say no to an
authoritarian regime’s attempts to silence millions of
people this election. People in Russia are depending on

Through an open
to some of the most powerful figures in
the digital sphere — including Tim Cook, CEO of Apple,
Mark Zuckerberg, Chair and CEO of Facebook, and Sundar
Pichai, CEO of Google — civil society is calling for these
intermediaries to publicly pledge their support to maintain
free, open, and secure internet access in

“Russia’s notoriety for cracking down on
critical voices means internet shutdown orders are probably
already on the horizon,” said Felicia Anthonio,
Campaigner and #KeepItOn Lead at Access Now
. “But
they’re not inevitable. They’re a choice. And we’re
calling on Big Tech and telcos to make the right

Recommendations to Apple, Twitter, Yandex,
TransTelekom, ER-Telecom, S, Rostelecom, Google,
MegaFon, Cloudflare, VEON, Beeline, and Facebook

  • Publicly denounce internet
    , censorship, and disruptions of essential
    online services in Russia and other
  • Resist and push back
    against shutdown and censorship
  • Preserve evidence and
    reveal any demands from the government urging you to disrupt
    internet access or block specific online content, and any
    pressure to conceal those demands;
  • Contest
    the legality
    of internet shutdown or censorship
    orders; and
  • Consult civil society and rally
    peer companies
    to push back against government
    censorship demands.

Last week, the Russian
telecoms regulator, Roskomnadzor, announced
it is testing methods of blocking innovative technologies
— such as DoH that hides website names to avoid government
snooping — by Mozilla and Google, and threatened tech
companies to not allow circumvention. On September 8, 2021,
the Russian government blocked
Google and Cloudflare domain name system (DNS) services,
which reportedly resulted in the internet being down for
approximately an hour.

This call for intervention
comes as the government of Russia accelerates its broader
attacks against civil society through prosecuting journalists
and independent media
and human
rights organizations
, targeting anti-corruption
activist and opposition leader, Alexey
, and pressuring
social media companies
to take down

Read the open

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