Russia Threatens Google With Online Slowdown

Russia is threatening action against search engine giant Google, and warned it may slowdown its services in the country.

The threat, from Russia’s media watchdog Roskomnadzor, centres over allegations that Google has failed to delete what Russia calls ‘unlawful content.’

Other online services have also been targeted previously. In 2018, Google and Amazon services in Russia were caught in the crossfire, by a ban intended stop Russians from using communications app Telegram.

Slowdown warning

But now according to the local news agency Tass, Google has been sent 26,000 notices to takedown content on its YouTube service.

Roskomnadzor has reportedly given Google 24 hours to takedown the content, which it says relates to drugs, violence and extremism.

If Google does remove the content, Roskomnadzor said it could slow down internet speeds for users in Russia trying to access Google.

It should be remembered that Russia has carried out a similar threat, against another US-based tech firm, namely Twitter.

Since March this year, the Russian government has used deep-packet inspection (DPI) technology to slowdown users’ access to Twitter.

Russia then extended this Twitter slowdown until mid-May.

Local media restrictions

Google is also reportedly being accused of restricting YouTube access to Russian media outlets, such as RT and Sputnik, and supporting “illegal protest activity.”

Last November Russia’s parliament even presented draft legislation that, if passed, would enable the Russian government to restrict internet access to American social networking giants deemed to have discriminated against Russian media outlets.

Russia it should be remembered has already passed a number of restrictive laws governing the online world, not least of which was its so called ‘Sovereign Internet’ law that enables Russia to be cut off from the global Internet.

But some US tech firms are firming up against Russian overreach.

In September last year, Twitter expanded its labelling of accounts belonging to several Russian media outlets with the description “state-affiliated media”, along with those of their senior staff and some key government officials, much to the ire of Russian officials.

Court fine

Meanwhile Reuters has reported that a Russian court on Tuesday has handed Google three separate fines totalling 6 million roubles ($81,810) over a failure to delete content that Moscow deems illegal.

Google however is reportedly suing Roskomnadzor over a takedown request for twelve YouTube videos which include encouraging minors to join unsanctioned protests in January, in support of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

Navalny has more than 6.5 million subscribers on YouTube, and regularly posts videos on the platform voicing his opposition to President Vladimir Putin and the Russian government.

A hearing has reportedly been scheduled for 14 July.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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