Sunday, 25 August, 2019

Russia tells Google not to advertise "illegal" events after election protests

Protesters attend a rally in central Moscow Protesters attend a rally in central Moscow
Steven Clarke | 13 August, 2019, 05:00

Silhouettes of mobile device users are seen next to a screen projection of Youtube logo in this picture illustration taken March 28, 2018.

Russia's Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor) has demanded that Google cease promoting livestreams of demonstrations with push notifications, a day after "tens of thousands" of Russians "staged what observers called the country's biggest political protest for eight years on Saturday", Reuters reported. The media regulator said Moscow will take the appropriate measures should the US video-sharing giant refuse to comply.

It said if Google, which owns YouTube, did not act it would consider it as "interference in its sovereign affairs" and "hostile influence (over) and obstruction of democratic elections in Russia".

Russian Federation has cracked down on search engines in recent years by introducing laws that restrict specific search results.

Russia's media regulator has asked internet giant Google to delete videos of anti-government protests and arrests in Moscow from its platform YouTube.

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Industry experts believe that Google has been put in a sticky position where it will have to choose between retaining the protesting people's freedom of expression while protecting itself from drawing further ire from Moscow. This is especially true after the watchdog said authorities have the right to "an adequate reaction" to the issue. In contrast to the protests on previous weekends, the authorities had approved this rally.

Protesters are outraged over the exclusion of opposition candidates from Moscow city hall elections next month.

These technologies can not be used without the assistance of certain Western organizations and owners of network companies, the senator noted.

A group that monitors public meetings and mass protests in Russia, Beliy Schetchik, said it counted around 50,000 people at the demonstration but Russian police put the figure closer to 20,000.

In July, Roskomnadzor fined Google 700,000 rubles ($11,000) for failing to censor content blacklisted by the agency in accordance with strict Russian Internet laws. Protest tally NGO White Counter estimated that nearly 50,000 people attended the opposition's arrest-laden demonstration.

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