Russia wants Google to censor political dissent in the country, it seems. Russia's telecommunications regular, Raskomnadzor, sent a letter to Google in which it asks the company to stop promoting "illegal mass events" on YouTube.
Such protests have been all over the platform, so users had easy access to it. In its letter, Raskomnadzor even mentions "push notifications" as an extra sub-tool which helps spread information on such events.
The country is trying to censor such events that are illegal, according to the source, especially those aimed at disrupting elections of federal and regional significance. The Russian agency said that it will respond if such promotion continues, asking Google to act upon this appeal.
The agency will treat continued promotion as "interference in the sovereign affairs" of the county, which will result in a different treatment for Google, as it will be treated as a "hostile influence". In other words, officials will be granted the "right to an adequate reaction", says Raskomnadzor.
There is a simple reason why this is happening, protests have been growing for a while now. If that was not the case, Raskomnadzor probably would not have sent this letter in the first place, but it is trying to keep things under control.
The most recent protest that occurred in Russia had about 50,000 participants, says Engadget. The latest protest, and most of the recent ones, have to do with President Putin's anti-democratic policies. Such rule sits well with some, but not with everyone, apparently. That has been the case for a while now, but those protests grew considerably in the last couple of months.
It remains to be seen if and how will Google respond to this. It is safe to assume that the company will issue some kind of a response, but what will it be? This is a really difficult decision for Google, as it's mostly a lose-lose decision.
If the company doesn't comply with this request, Russia may end up blocking part of YouTube, or maybe YouTube in general. On the other hand, if it does comply with the request, it may greatly influence political freedom in Russia, and anger a good portion of its Russian audience.
Chances are that Google will issue a response in the coming days, as this is a rather complicated situation which requires the company to act fast. Google may issue a response via its Russian channels only, as this is not really a matter that belongs on the company's global newsroom, but we'll see. Whatever the case may be, it will end up in the media.
This is not the first time Google is having issues with Russian regulators. The very same regulator that we've mentioned here, Raskomnadzor, opened an official investigation into Google back in November last year. This happened after Google failed to censor certain Search results in Russia. If you'd like to read more about that, feel free to do so by clicking here. The bottom line is, Google had already dealt with Raskomnadzor, and it remains to be seen what will happen this time around.