Russia Threatens To Slow Down Google Over ‘Unlawful Content’
Russia’s media watchdog has threatened to slow down the speed of Google in the country over ‘unlawful content’ posted on YouTube.
The watchdog, Roskomnadzor, has said Google does not sufficiently filter content or ‘fulfill its obligation to exclude links’ relating to topics that are prohibited in the Russian Federation, including videos it says relate to drugs, violence and extremism.
In an effort to resolve the issue, Roskomnadzor has given Google 24 hours to remove the controversial videos or face fines between 800,000 and 4 million roubles (£7,700 – £38,000).
The watchdog has said it is not ruling out a slowdown in traffic for the company’s services should the videos not be removed, according to the state-run news agency TASS.
A statement released by Roskomnadzor’s press service read, ‘On average, from 20% to 30% of links to content prohibited in Russia are not removed from search results, including including websites of terrorist and extremist organizations, websites with pornographic images of minors, as well as online stores selling drugs.’
The watchdog claims to have sent more than 26,000 notifications to Google regarding the removal of the content, and noted that Google was in the lead when it comes to ‘illegal content that directly harms Russian users’ after Twitter obliged to Roskomnadzor’s request and removed 91% of its prohibited information.
If Google is found to repeat offences, the company will face fines costing one-tenth of the total amount of Google’s annual revenue.
Roskomnadzor also took issue with YouTube, which is owned by Google, for failing to remove approximately 5,000 prohibited materials, 3,500 of which are said to contain calls for extremism. It also claims that Google restricted YouTube access to Russian media outlets, including RT and Sputnik, and supported ‘illegal protest activity’.
Per Reuters, the company said, ‘This censorship of Russian media and the targeted support for illegal protest activity actually speak to the political colouring of Google’s activities in Russia.’
Internet service providers in Russia have the power to limit or block the flow of data to websites, in turn making it slower for users to connect to certain pages. Roskomnadzor has previously made clear that its threats to slow traffic are not empty, having restricted access to Twitter after the site reportedly failed to remove around 3,000 posts.
Google and Roskomnadzor are already in the midst of a lawsuit after the technology company sued the watchdog over demands it removes 12 YouTube videos that reportedly contained content encouraging minors to join protests that took place in support of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.
A hearing in that case has been scheduled for July 14.
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