Google Caves On Russian Censorship
from the be-evil? dept
Late last year, we were among those disappointed by leaked news from Google that it was toying around with a censored search engine for China — a country that the company had mostly left nearly a decade ago. After loud complaints both from people outside the company and many within, reports in late December said that the company had quietly halted efforts to build a censored Chinese search engine.
But now… the company may be dipping its toe in the evil pool again, as it has apparently agreed to cooperate with Russia’s censors. This is a battle that’s been going on for some time. Over the last few years, Russia has passed a number of internet censorship laws, and there have been lots of questions about how Google and other tech giants would respond. A year ago, we noted that Facebook/Instagram had decided to cave in and that ratcheted up the pressure on Google.
It should be noted that Russia has been on Google’s case for a while, and the company had been resisting such pressure. Indeed, the company actually shut down its Russian office a few years back to try to protect itself (and its employees) from Russian legal threats.
But, apparently, something has changed:
The business news source Vedomosti is reporting that Google has struck a deal with Russian censors to continue operating in the country by deleting websites that are banned in Russia from its results. The government censorship agency Roskomnadzor maintains a registry of sites that may not be distributed on Russian territory, but Google is one of a few search engines that does not subscribe to that registry. However, the company regularly deletes links from its search results that Roskomnadzor has banned, sources within both Roskomnadzor and Google told Vedomosti.
The report notes that, previously, Roskomnadzor had just been fining Google for its failures, and the company had been simply paying the fines. Now, however, it will sign up to censor the official list of sites, which is large and constantly growing. Given what the company just went through with the whole China debacle, you would think the company would be more thoughtful about this kind of thing. This is an unfortunate decision.