A few weeks ago, we warned about a dangerous new German law that would fine social media companies if they didn't magically block "hate speech" on their platforms. As we pointed out, this would lead to widespread censorship, as the risk of liability for leaving up even borderline speech would be massive. And, equally important, this would embolden oppressive, dictatorial and autocratic regimes to press on with their own crackdowns on free speech by using laws like this one and claiming that they're doing the exact same thing as supposedly democratic nations like Germany.
We didn't have to wait long. Reporters Without Borders points us to the news that Russia has now rushed out a bill that is basically a cut and paste of the German law:
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns a Russian bill that would force social networks to remove “unlawful” content within 24 hours of notification. It is based very closely on a law that was adopted in Germany on 30 June.
The Russian bill shows that when leading democracies devise draconian legislation, they provide repressive regimes with ideas. Submitted to the Duma on 12 July by members of President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, the bill’s references to the German law are explicit.
Just like the German bill, the Russian bill would allow anyone to claim certain content is "unlawful" and then the platforms would have 24 hours to remove the content or face massive fines. This will, inevitably, enable much greater control and censorship (already an issue in Russia). But it will be more difficult to argue that Russia is doing something "bad" here as the Russians will quickly point out that Germany has identical legislation. And I wouldn't be surprised to see other countries, such as Iran or China, put in place similar "laws" themselves.