Russia’s telecom watchdog is taking action against tech giant Google for failing to exclude Russian-banned domains from search results.
On Monday, the Roskomnadzor agency announced it had opened an administrative case against Google LLC over the western tech giant’s refusal to connect to the federal state information system (FGIS) and its list of “prohibited Internet resources.” The case will be considered at some point next month.
Roskomnadzor recently threatened Google with an administrative penalty of RUB700k (US$10,400) for failing to purge its search results of blacklisted domains, including many internationally licensed online gambling operators. Roskomnadzor routinely blacklists over 10k gambling domains each month, including another 3,500 in the seven days ending November 21.
Last week, Roskomnadzor reported that its deputy chief Vadim Subbton met with Google’s Doron Avni to air the watchdog’s grievances and to repeat its invitation for Google to join the ‘anti-piracy’ memorandum, which Russia’s domestic media holdings and internet companies agreed to on November 1.
This memorandum included the requirement for internet firms to purge search results of prohibited content, including file-sharing sites offering illegal copies of copyrighted material, which often featured ads for online casino sites. Rights holders can have domains blocked without a court order, requiring the affected sites to go to court to prove their innocence, rather than rights holders having to prove the sites’ guilt.
In June 2017, some Russian internet service providers temporarily blocked access to Google after one of the search engine’s pages was found to contain a redirect to a forbidden gambling site. The ISPs had already automated their services to conform to Roskomnadzor’s naughty list. Google eventually had its Russian access restored after fixing the redirect.
Russia has so far licensed only a handful of domestic online sports betting sites, and any other site offering wagering or forbidden products such as poker or casino games is in violation of Russian law. Roskomnadzor receives three times as many public complaints about online gambling than any other illicit activity, including drug trafficking or child pornography.