Russia moves to punish Google for YouTube ‘fakes’

(Reuters) – Russia’s communications watchdog said on Thursday it was taking action to punish Google, including banning advertising from the platform and its news services, for breaking Russian law.

The measures will apply to Google Search, Google Play App Store, YouTube, YouTube Music, Google Chat and Gmail.

Roskomnadzor accused Google’s YouTube video-sharing platform, which shut down Russian state-funded media around the world, of becoming “one of the main platforms spreading fake (fake images) on the carrying out of the special military operation (of Russia) on the territory of Ukraine, discrediting the armed forces of the Russian Federation”.

He said the measures against Google, owned by Alphabet Inc., which include a search engine warning that it broke Russian law, would remain in place until it complies with the legislation.

Deputy head of the State Duma parliamentary committee on information policy Anton Gorelkin wrote on Telegram that the Russian search engine Yandex will add a warning to Google services.

Google spent 243 million rubles ($3.2 million) on advertising in Russia in 2021, excluding VAT, according to a Kommersant report citing industry publication AdIndex.

Google, which stopped selling online advertising in Russia on March 3, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Last month, Russia demanded that Google stop broadcasting what it calls threats against Russian citizens on YouTube.

The regulator also blocked Google’s news aggregation service in March, accusing it of providing access to fake documents about the military operation in Ukraine.

The Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, last month passed a law providing for up to 15 years in prison for intentionally spreading “false” information that contradicts government reports on the military.

The desire to control information about its campaign in Ukraine has heightened Moscow’s longstanding tensions with foreign tech companies.

Outraged that Meta Platforms allowed social media users in Ukraine to post messages such as “Death to Russian invaders”, Moscow blocked Instagram in March, after it had already cut off access to Facebook over what it said. of platform restrictions on Russian media.

Russia sent tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine on February 24 in what it called a special operation aimed at degrading the military capabilities of its southern neighbor and eliminating people it called dangerous nationalists.

Ukrainian forces mounted fierce resistance and the West imposed sweeping sanctions in an attempt to force Russia to withdraw its forces. ($1 = 76.6650 rubles)

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Andrea Ricci)

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