Published: Tue, August 13, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Russian Internet Watchdog Urges YouTube to Refrain From Promoting Unauthorised Rallies

Russian Internet Watchdog Urges YouTube to Refrain From Promoting Unauthorised Rallies

Google has been warned by Russia's state communications regulator to stop "advertising" protests on YouTube ahead of local elections in Moscow.

The document states that the refusal to take measures will be regarded as interference in the sovereign affairs of the Russian Federation, as well as hostile influence and obstruction of the holding of democratic elections in Russia.

According to the telecom watchdog, "some structures" were buying YouTube advertising tools (push notifications) with the goal of disseminating information about unauthorized events aimed at disrupting elections at various levels across Russian Federation. The protests were livestreamed on YouTube; organizers claimed that some videos attracted 50,000 viewers.

The latest round of protests, estimated to be the largest in eight years, follows the exclusion of opposition and independent candidates from the city council's elections.

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Of additional concern to the government is that some of Russia's "most famous internet celebrities and musicians" have urged their millions of followers to join the demonstrators, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Google has faced pressure from Roskomnadzor before, including laws requiring search engines to delete some results (with Google being ordered to cough up around $11,298 in 2018 for non-compliance).

Earlier that year, Google removed a YouTube advertisement by Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny after authorities complained that the videos violated a law prohibiting campaigning before a vote for regional governors. Although the Telegram messaging service is formally banned, it is still available in the country. Major disruption to Russian internet services lasted for weeks. More than 200 people were reported arrested Saturday after some rally participants moved the protest from its sanctioned spot into the heart of the Russian capital. Its Federal Antimonopoly Service is also now investigating Apple for initially not allowing antivirus provider Kaspersky to register an app with certain parental controls (Apple later gave in).

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