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.

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Companies: google

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Comments on “Google Caves On Russian Censorship”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

'We're not in your country... here's the money you demanded.'

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.

The report notes that, previously, Roskomnadzor had just been fining Google for its failures, and the company had been simply paying the fines.

Wait, what? They deliberately removed themselves from the country to avoid legal troubles, yet they’ve been paying the ‘fines’ anyway? They might as well have kept the office open if they were just going to pay up for ‘non-compliance’ anyway.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Cut 'em off at the knees, or ankles or toes

It may not matter in the future as Russia is doing a practice disconnect from the Internet. Of course if they actually do this for real, they will have less ability to impact political events in other countries, so I don’t think they actually will. Doing a partial shutdown where the public cannot access it but government agents can seems more likely.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Not necessarily. The two lists can be mutually exclusive. You can allow all websites except for the specified ones (blacklist). Or you can block all websites and only allow specified ones (whitelist).

There are some instances where you would have both but just because one exists doesn’t necessarily imply the existence of the other.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:


I can blacklist any site I want on my firewall. If I want to block google it takes me all of two seconds to add them to my blacklist and nobody behind my firewall will ever be able to get to it. This scales up to any size company or nation/state/country. A few clicks and BAM! your site is blocked for whatever portion of network you control.

Thad (profile) says:

Re: Re:

If there is a list of websites that must be censored/removed, aka blacklist, then it follows that there is a white list.

Either you’ve never used an adblocker or you’re being intentionally obtuse.

An adblocker is a trivial example of a program that is based on a blacklist and that may also use a whitelist but does not require one.

So what was the basis for your incorrect statement — ignorance, or dishonesty?

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