- The Washington Times - Friday, October 26, 2018

Russia said Google will be fined for failing to comply with federal requirements imposed under Moscow’s repressive internet censorship regime.

Roskomnadzor, the Russian government’s internet and media watchdog, accused Google on Thursday of ignoring a law requiring search engines to filter content outlawed under President Vladimir Putin.

“While fulfilling its duties, Roskomnadzor has recorded the fact of Google’s non-compliance with its duty to connect to the federal state information system,” the watchdog said, according to an English translation published by state-owned media.

Russian law requires search engines operating within the country to connect to the “information system” — a register maintained by Roskomnadzor containing Moscow’s roster domestically banned websites and other online resources — so that companies can see what content is considered contraband and accordingly stop their dissemination.

Roskomnadzor previously contacted Google about connecting to the register, but the search engine failed to respond and is now subject to a fine of up to 700,000 rubles, or roughly $10,600, the watchdog said.

Google did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Vadim Subbotin, Roskomnadzor deputy chief, said Google had three days to respond to the watchdog’s ruling, state-owned media reported.

Roskomnadzor said Google’s noncompliance related to a particular provision, Article 15.8 of the federal law, “On Information, Information Technologies and Information Protection,” which specifically bans search engines from disseminating content included on Moscow’s blacklist.

“The Federal Law prohibits owners of information and telecommunications networks and information resources (websites and website pages on the internet, information systems and programs for electronic computers) from ensuring the possibility of using such networks and resources in Russia to provide access to information resources and information and telecommunications networks, access to which is restricted in Russia based on judicial acts or decisions of authorized bodies,” the Kremlin explained previously.

Additional amendments signed by Mr. Putin this past June, meanwhile, established administrative liability specifically for search engine operators found in violation of the law, the Kremlin said at the time.

Roskomnadzor briefly banned in Google for around three hours in 2017 in connection with an earlier ruling made against an illegal online betting service.

More recently, the watchdog said it sent a complaint to Google chief executive Larry Page last month accusing the company of meddling in Russian politics.

International human rights groups have repeatedly ranked Russia among the worst in the modernized world with respect to internet freedoms, citing factors including Moscow’s expanding blacklist. 

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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