Russia asks Google to stop advertising “illegal mass events”

Russia asks Google to stop advertising “illegal mass events”

Russia’s communications watchdog has asked Google to stop advertising “illegal mass events” on its YouTube video-hosting platform, following a large political protest in Moscow on Saturday.

Tens of thousands of people gathered to demand free elections for the legislature of the Russian capital, defying a crackdown on such rallies.

Roskomnadzor — the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media — said information about illegal protests was being spread via YouTube’s advertising tools.

It said Russia would consider a failure by Google to respond to the request as “interference in [Russia’s] sovereign affairs” and “hostile influence [over] and obstruction of democratic elections in Russia”.

Without giving details, Roskomnadzor said that if the company does not take measures to prevent events from being promoted on its platforms, Russia reserves the right to respond accordingly.

In recent years Russia has introduced tougher laws requiring search engines to delete some search results, messaging services to share encryption keys with security services and social networks to store Russian users’ personal data on servers within the country.

A spokesperson for Google in Russia declined to comment.

Moscow has previously put regulatory pressure on Google, one of the main rivals of Russian internet search company Yandex.

In late 2018, Russia fined Google 500,000 roubles (about AUD $11,000) for failing to comply with a legal requirement to remove certain entries from its search results.

Earlier that year, Google removed a YouTube advertisement by Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny after authorities said the videos violated a law prohibiting campaigning before an election for regional governors. 

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