IT giants tweak customization
How the policy of Internet corporations has changed at the request of Roskomnadzor
Russia has asked Google to block content more often than all other countries combined over the past 10 years. Since 2011, Russian authorities have contacted the company more than 120 thousand times, the BBC Russian service writes, citing reports on the corporation's transparency. This is 60% of all requests in the world. In 2020, most of them related to the removal of information from the search engine, and there were often complaints about YouTube as well.
The reason is that in the last decade Roskomnadzor got the opportunity to demand blocking without a court decision, says Ivan Begtin, director of the non-profit organization Information Culture: “According to UN experts, Russian Internet legislation is considered restrictive. A similar approach is used in a limited number of countries. Since Russia does not have tools for total filtering of everything related to the Internet, like China, for example, official mechanisms are used, inundating Google with requests.
There are much fewer such requests from European countries, firstly, because their Internet regulation is directive and free. It comes from specific cases with removal and is related to court decisions. If content was also removed in Russia only by a court decision, we would receive as many requests as from other countries.
As for the blocking of YouTube channels RT in Germany, it is a matter of some self-censorship by Google. What is the difference, conventionally, of the American and European approach from the Russian one? For them, if it comes to some kind of prohibition, then the fines for non-compliance with it are simply enormous. Therefore, platforms implement self-censorship in the most rigid manner possible. The criteria by which Facebook or Google decide to block a user may go beyond national law. “
In recent years, Google has become less likely to refuse to delete information. For example, if in the first half of 2019 the company rejected almost half of the requests, then at the end of 2020 the share of refusals was about 8%.
Google, like other IT giants, has become more accommodating, says lawyer and managing partner of the Digital Rights Center Sarkis Darbinyan: “The increase in the intensity of requests is associated with a surge in civic activity and the need to clean up the information field in relation to a number of organizations that were deemed undesirable and extremist.
After demanding to remove certain content from Apple and Google stores, corporations complied and softened their rhetoric. Now they are ready to customize their product, as they do in the case of China. 2021 is a turning point in this regard, which means that this will happen more often and in large volumes. The story with fines, too, will probably continue for some time. So far there is no mechanism for the actual execution of all penalties, but if the companies decide to land, then, of course, they will remember all the previously imposed fines. “
In 2021, the requirements of the authorities for IT giants have tightened. Roskomnadzor began regularly issuing fines to corporations for not removing illegal content, but most of them do not pay. The total amount of penalties has already exceeded RUB 100 million. Now the department threatens, in particular, Facebook with a turnover fine, which can reach 10% of the company's annual revenue. The corresponding protocol has already been sent to the court, Roskomnadzor said.