Sunday, May 22, 2022

Russian regulator says it fines Google for war videos in Ukraine

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Shreya Christina
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Russia’s communications regulatory agency Roskomnadzor has threatened to fine Google for failing to follow the country’s orders to remove certain “illegal” YouTube videos, as first reported by The Washington Post† In a translated version of his post on Telegramde Roskomnadzor warns that it could fine the tech company up to 8 million rubles (about $94,675 USD), an amount that, if repeated, will increase to 20 percent of Google’s annual revenue.

The Roskomnadzor claims that YouTube is “promoting the spread of fake content” about what it calls the country’s “special military operation” in Ukraine, accusing the platform of “discrediting” the Russian military. It also says YouTube contains “extremist” content “with calls to carry out violent actions against Russian military personnel.”

It’s not clear exactly which videos the Roskomnadzor is referring to, but it likely has to do with a complaint filed by the communications regulator earlier this month. On March 18, the Roskomnadzor demanded removal of YouTube ads it says to promote the destruction of the Russian and Belarusian railways. “The actions of the YouTube administration are of a terrorist nature and threaten the life and health of Russian citizens,” it wrote in a statement. a press release† “Roskomnadzor is categorically opposed to such ad campaigns and requires Google LLC to stop broadcasting anti-Russian videos as soon as possible.”

YouTube has already taken a number of actions against Russia after the country’s invasion of Ukraine. The platform has changed its policy to dismantle the channels of RT and other Russian state-backed media and is blocking access to videos posted by these channels. According to a report by BloombergYouTube suspended the Russian military account after it posted two videos (which were later removed) calling the war in Ukraine a “liberation mission” last week. Bloomberg says it has also banned a YouTube channel associated with Russia’s defense ministry.

Facebook and Instagram have taken similar actions as the Russian government’s platform media. Both social services began allowing users in certain countries to incite violence against Russian soldiers, a policy that led Russia to ban the two sites entirely for “extremist activities.”

It is unclear whether Google has responded to Roskomnadzor’s threats. The edge contacted YouTube with a request for comment, but didn’t hear back immediately.

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