What just happened? Russia has launched an investigation into Netflix after the public commissioner for protecting families accused the streaming service of violating a "gay propaganda" law. The commissioner says Netflix breached a 2013 Russian law that bans the distribution of "propaganda on non-traditional sexual relations" among under 18s by hosting LGBT-themed content with age ratings of 16 years and older.
Reuters reports that the Moscow department of the Interior Ministry is now considering commissioner Olga Baranets' complaint. If found guilty of breaking Russia's law, Netflix could be fined up to 1 million roubles ($13,400) or face a temporary suspension of its service.
Russian daily newspaper Vedomosti reports that a Netflix source says the company checked its content earlier this month and found no LGBT content in its catalogue that was rated 16+. Engadget writes the paper also reported that officials may ban streaming services showing content that includes "non-traditional sexual relationships and sexual deviations."
In 2017, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the Russian gay propaganda law breached European treaty rules, violated the right to freedom of expression, and discriminated against LGBT people.
The move is the latest attempt from Russia to exert more control over the internet, especially when it comes to US entities. Authorities fined Google just under $82,000 earlier this year for failing to comply with demands to delete more than 26,000 instances of "prohibited" online content, and earlier this week demanded foreign companies set up local offices in the country by 2022 to comply with a law that was put into effect in July. It listed Apple, Google, Meta (Facebook), Telegram, TikTok, and Twitter among 13 firms that must create an official presence in Russia.