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Google fined for not censoring search results according to Russia’s blacklist

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Google is today, by and large, the most dominant search engine in the western – and well beyond – world. However – this is not true in such places and such large markets as Russia and China.

In the case of China, which Google says decided to leave a decade ago – there have since been clear attempts at mending ties, in the face of severe monetary losses from missing out on this huge market.

Then there’s Russia – a market where Google is still legally allowed to operate – but where a domestic competitor, Yandex, now dominates the search segment.

And Russia has its own set of rules when it comes to the way companies operate on the internet. TorrentFreak writes that Google had previously failed to make sure its search indexes live up to Russia’s online “blacklist” database – whose Russian acronym is FGIS – for Unified Register of Prohibited Information.

This database lists thousands of website domains that are censored in Russia for a range of reasons, including extremist and pirate sites. Tech companies must connect to the database to stay current with the list.

Last December, Google failed to do this and was fined the first time, and it was now again given a slap on its corporate wrist when it was ordered to pay $11,000.

But behind the fines looms the danger of Google getting blocked in Russia, the report said.

Communications watchdog Roskomnadzor explained the decision by saying that a third of links that Google should not show in its search results in Russia are still there and that the tech giant had repeatedly ignored warnings to act and remove them all.

But Google claims there is no new case here, as it several months ago said it would not connect to FGIS or “blindly” delete content, but would instead consider requests to do that.

TorrentFreak also cities Roscomsvoboda, a Russian digital rights group, who said Google removed 80 percent of blocked content in April, and 67.5 percent in May.

It remains to be seen whether Google will start fully complying with Russian rules, and whether its current actions will be tolerated by Roscomnadzor.

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