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Rumble Is Blocked in Russia After Refusing Censorship Requests, CEO Says

If you’re tired of censorship and surveillance, join Reclaim The Net.

The Russian government has officially blocked access to the video-sharing platform Rumble, following the company’s refusal to comply with demands for censorship. That’s according to Chris Pavlovski, CEO of Rumble, who confirmed the news, highlighting the platform’s commitment to free speech and its refusal to bend to external pressures.

“Russia has officially blocked Rumble because we refused to comply with their censorship demands,” Pavlovski stated. He pointed out the apparent contradiction in the treatment of different tech companies, noting, “Ironically, YouTube is still operating in Russia, and everyone needs to ask what Russian demands Google and YouTube are complying with?”

The block comes amid heightened tensions over internet freedoms in Russia. The government has been tightening its grip on online content, demanding that platforms remove or block content it deems politically sensitive or harmful.

This action against Rumble raises questions about the operations of other tech giants in the country, notably YouTube. The Google-owned video service continues to operate, suggesting it may be meeting Russian regulatory demands that Rumble has rejected.

In a revealing X Spaces interview, Pavlovski elaborated on the recent decision by Russia to block the platform, a move he connects to the company’s firm stance against censorship demands. Pavlovski drew parallels between current events and past challenges, notably referencing a similar situation in France.

source: X Spaces

“Two years ago we left France; they threatened to turn us off at the telco level so we decided to make the decision to leave the country entirely,” Pavlovski said. France was demanding that Rumble shut down Russian news sources. Pavlovski highlighted the significant media attention this decision received previously, which contrasts sharply with the current underreporting of Rumble’s ban in Russia. “And every single paper in the United States and in Canada covered how we were allowing Russian news sources on Rumble,” he added.

Pavlovski detailed that Rumble had received multiple requests from the Russian government to censor various channels, which did not violate their terms of service. He listed the types of content involved: “One of the accounts was with respect to marijuana, another seemed to be like some kind of conspiracy channel… And the other channel seemed to be an Arabic channel that was political…”

By refusing these demands, Rumble was subsequently made inaccessible within Russia. Pavlovski emphasized the implications for other platforms still operating in Russia, raising questions about their compliance. “Rumble has been the tip of the spear when it comes to free expression… So what does that mean? Are [other platforms] complying with every single request that comes? Or what is exactly happening? I think that’s a really important question that everyone needs to ask because obviously Rumble is not as big as YouTube.”

Pavlovski mentioned that they suspected for about a month that Russia was blocking Rumble, but it was only confirmed this week: “It might have happened about a month ago, but we confirmed that Russia has put Rumble on a block list and we’re completely inaccessible within Russia. Entirely.”

The news of the Russia block followed Pavlovski’s testimony in dealing with another country’s censorship demands – Brazil. On Tuesday, Pavlovski spoke before the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, detailing the company’s withdrawal from Brazil due to censorship demands by the nation’s left-wing judiciary.

The hearing, chaired by Rep. Chris Smith, explored the erosion of civil liberties in Brazil under President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes. Witnesses, including American journalist Michael Shellenberger, criticized the Brazilian government’s repressive tactics, which have stifled free expression and led to accusations of criminal activity against those exposing government censorship.

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