The head of Russia's media watchdog, Roskomnadzor, has accused Google, Facebook and Twitter of committing “lawless actions” by defying media laws. In letters addressed to the companies' senior executives, Alexander Zharov threatened to fine and ban the three social networks if they continue to ignore Moscow’s demands to delete “extremist” content, Izvestia reported.

Zharov added that the companies should also provide information about the numbers of visitors to specific pages in accordance with the Russian law that necessitates blogs with over 3,000 views to register with Roskomnadzor. Roskomnadzor representatives have repeatedly met with Twitter, Google and Facebook to explain the Russian legislation, the report said.

Zharov’s comments were made after his deputy, Maxim Ksendzov, appealed to the companies earlier this month, demanding that any content which “contains calls of mass unrest [or] carrying out extremist activities" should immediately be blocked.

“If Russia does go through with fining Facebook and Twitter, collecting the money would prove to be difficult,” telecommunications lawyer Anton Bogatov told Izvestia. As for Google, which has subsidiary companies in Russia, “the general rule of thumb is that the son is not responsible for the parent, but there are exceptions,” commented Bogatov.

This is the second time that Roskomnadzor has threatened Facebook, Twitter and Google with a complete block, although last time, in May 2014, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev allayed concerns that a block would in fact occur.

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