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Russia demands Youtube take action on protest videos

August 11, 2019

Russia's media oversight agency has demanded Google take action to stop the spread of information about illegal mass protests. Thousands of its YouTube channels livestreamed one of Russia's biggest demos on Saturday.

Russian security officers detain a man following a rally calling for fair elections in central Moscow
Image: AFP/V. Maximov

Russia's media regulator on Sunday asked Google to stop sending push notifications for livestream videos of anti-government protests and arrests.

Roskomnadzor said it complained to Google about unspecified "structures" allegedly using tools, such as push notifications, to spread information about illegal mass protests, "including those aimed at disrupting elections."

Read more: Russian court orders Telegram messaging app to pay fine

Under pressure

The Russian watchdog said that if Google failed to respond to its request, it would consider it "interference in its sovereign affairs" and "hostile influence [over] and obstruction of democratic elections in Russia."

Moscow would then reserve the right to react "appropriately," it said, without elaborating.

Read more: Moscow protesters rally against Russia's 'online Iron Curtain'

Local elections

Protests erupted after several opposition candidates were controversially rejected from a ballot for an upcoming Moscow council vote. 

Tens of thousands of Russians protested in Moscow on Saturday in favor of free and fair elections and against police violence, in the fourth demonstration in as many weeks.

Police have detained over 1,300 protesters taking part in the protests.

Read more: Russia's parliament votes to unplug internet from world

Online surveillance

Russia has tough laws requiring search engines to delete some search results, messaging services to share encryption keys with security services, and social networks to store Russian users' personal data on servers hosted on Russian soil.

Moscow has a track record of putting regulatory pressure on Google, one of the main rivals of Russian internet search company Yandex.

Read more: Russia tightens Internet screws with 'server law'

kw/jlw (AP, dpa, Reuters)

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