The state communications watchdog of Russia has ordered Google to stop the advertising of illegal events on YouTube in the wake of election protests.
Google gets a notice
The country’s biggest political protest in eight years was staged last Saturday in Moscow. Protestors demanded free elections in the city legislature and the event was also broadcast live on multiple channels on YouTube. However, Roscomnadzor isn’t pleased with what is happening online.
The communications watchdog of Russia noted that some entities are buying advertising tools on YouTube, like push notifications. They are using them to spread information about these mass protests, some of which aim to disrupt the elections. The agency considers these protests illegal.
Russia also said that if Google fails to follow its requests, the country will consider this as an “interference in its sovereign affairs” and “hostile influence (over) and obstruction of democratic elections in Russia”. This is a very strict warning from the authorities and Google will need to provide an adequate response in time, i.e. prevent the promotion of events on its platform. Roscomnadzor said that it would respond accordingly if the tech giant doesn’t comply with their requests. The exact response from the authority is still unknown, but Russia is not new to censorship.
The Russian influence on the internet
While Russia doesn’t have as close an internet like China, it has been busy tightening its laws to reign in web companies. Search engines have also been asked to delete some search results while messaging companies have to share encryption information with the Russian security services. Even social networks are banned from storing the data of Russian users on servers located outside the country.
Moscow has a record of wrapping Google up in regulations. Towards the end of 2018, it was fined 500,000 rubles as it did not comply with the authorities’ requirements of removing some search results. Now, it is again asking to remove instances of advertising which could promote the mass protest.
People are taking to the streets of Moscow to allow opposition candidates to run for elections in Moscow city. The Russian government earlier made Google remove a YouTube advertisement by Alexei Navalny, the opposition candidate earlier last year. They complained that the advertisement violated local laws that prohibit campaigning before the vote for regional governors.
The company’s spokesperson declined to comment on the latest request by Moscow.