April 21, 2019
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Moscow media: Google begins deleting links to websites banned by Russian law

Moscow, Feb 7, (efe-epa).- The world' s largest internet search engine and Internet-related services provider has started deleting links to websites banned in Russia, according to Moscow media sources on Thursday.

US technological giant, Google was recently fined by Roskomnadzor, Russia's Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media, which oversees and enforces Russian mass media, electronic media, and information technology.

However, a Roskomnadzor state agency spokesperson, Vadim Ampelonsky, quoted today by Interfax, went as far as saying: "We are fully satisfied with the dialogue at this time," adding they had established a "constructive dialogue" with Google over filtering content.

According to Russian financial daily, Vedomosti, Google is purging its search engine from any links leading to websites banned by Russia's Law, while the Interfax agency pointed out Google had deleted 73 percent of the banned website links.

On Feb. 1, Google paid a 500,000 ruble fine (around $ 7,500) for breaching legislation making internet search engines responsible for deleting all banned internet content in Russia.

Russian digital legislation forbids spreading information containing war propaganda, inciting racial, ethnic or religious hatred, putting the life or health of minors at risk or encouraging substance abuse, tobacco, alcohol self-harm, gambling, prostitution or vagrancy.

It also censors websites condoning cruelty to animals, denying "traditional family values" or encouraging "non-traditional sexual predispositions" (sic).

In June 2013, Russia's State Duma unanimously passed a bill (with one abstention) officially known as "Law for the purpose of protecting children from information advocating for a denial of traditional family values" also known as the "anti-gay law" banning the public promotion of LGBT community rights and culture.

However, this law, which gained broad support among the Russian people, was deeply criticized by human rights NGO's, the Council of Europe, diverse United Nations agencies and in 2017, deemed discriminatory by the European Court of Human Rights.

Google found itself in trouble in the European Union, too, where it was fined 50 million euros ($56 million) in France over a lack of transparency, inadequate information and a lack of valid consent regarding the personalization of adverts, the National Commission on Informatics and Liberty (CNIL) said on Jan. 21.

The French data protection body said the fine was justified owing to "the severity" of the infringements.

The infringements deprived the users of essential guarantees regarding processing operation that can reveal important parts of their private life since they are based on a huge amount of data, the CNIL said in a statement.

The CNIL launched an investigation after complaints were lodged by two associations, None Of Your Business and La Quadrature du Net, saying that Google did not have "a valid legal basis to process the personal data of the users of its services, particularly for ads personalization purposes."

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