Report: Google Is Already Removing Blacklisted Websites in Russia

A Russian-language business daily published in Moscow said on Wednesday that search giant Google is complying with Russian demands to censor search and has already begun to omit certain entries from its search results.

Since last November, Russia requires search engines to remove search results that lead to blacklisted websites. Google was fined for breaking that law in 2018 and had to pay a very affordable fine worth $7,500.

The list of banned websites is maintained by Russia’s communications regulator Roskomnadzor. The list contains websites that feature content on topics such as child pornography, drugs, and suicide, but Roskomnadzor has also been accused of censoring results for political purposes, acting as a tool of state censorship.

On the list, for instance, are websites that feature corruption investigations by opposition activist Alexei Navalny.

A Worrying Trend

This is not the first time that Google has shown leniency when it comes to suppressing information. The company was infamously mired in the Dragonfly debacle; Dragonfly is the codename for a Google search app that was being designed to satisfy Chinese censors.

The daily, called Vedomosti, said that a Google employee had informed it that Google has deleted around 70% of the websites found on Roskomnadzor’s blacklist. Vedomosti did not reveal its source, but it also said that another unnamed source, this time from Roskomnadzor, confirmed the information. 

Then on Thursday, a Roskomnadzor spokesman said that the regulator has had “constructive dialogue” with Google around filtering content. The statement was made to state-run news agency RIA Novosti.

Google Russia has so far declined to comment.