Google Begins Removing Links from Search Results in Russia

U.S. tech giant Google has started censoring certain entries from its search results in Russia Wednesday in compliance with long-standing demands from authorities, business newspaper Vedomosti reports.

Roskomnadzor, Russia’s media and telecommunications watchdog, recently fined Google $7,500 for failing to take down certain search results. New regulations that went into effect in November 2017 require search engines to delete results to websites blacklisted by the communications regulator.

An unnamed source at Roskomnadzor, the watchdog, told the paper that Google has in recent weeks begun to comply with requests to block certain websites, and is now censoring around 70 percent of those included on a list provided by Russian authorities.

The watchdog, which bans websites containing prohibited information on topics such as child pornography, drugs and suicide, has also been accused of being a tool of state censorship. Roskomnadzor has blocked access to corruption investigations by opposition activist Alexei Navalny, the LinkedIn social network and the Telegram messaging app, and is currently investigating BBC Russia over possible violations.

On Thursday, a Roskomnadzor spokesman told state-run news agency RIA Novosti that the regulator had established a “constructive dialogue” with Google over filtering content.

“We are fully satisfied with the dialogue at this time,” Vadim Ampelonsky, the spokesman was cited as saying.

Google Russia has reportedly declined to comment.

Google said in its transparency report published earlier this week that Russia accounted for 75 percent of all global requests to delete content in January-July 2018.