On Friday, April 16, members of the Commission on the Investigation of Foreign Interference in Russia's Internal Affairs, chaired by Vasilii Piskarev
Vasily Ivanovich , held a meeting with Google and YouTube representatives via videoconference. Marco Pancini, Director for Google for Public Policy and Government Relations in European, the Middle East and African states and Marina Zhunich, Director for Government Relations Google Russia took part in the meeting. The meeting participants discussed examples of repeated violations of Russian legislation by Google and YouTube, in particular, the procedure for restricting access to prohibited content.
Violations of Russian legislation
Vasilii Piskarev recalled that YouTube had been demonstrating prohibited content, such as calls for minors to participate in protest actions in January-February 2021. He said that the Commission had documented facts and other evidence that there had been uploaded a lot of videos to YouTube, containing such appeals to teenagers, circumvented existing restrictions and rules.
The Chairman of the Commission added that when people entered any slang term of drugs as a search request in Google, Google Search showed all the specific vocabulary of drug addicts and even showed guidance where to buy drugs at the shadow market on the Internet.
Marco Pancini promised Russian parliamentarians to consider that information, to know the reasons and eliminate all violations.
Vasilii Piskarev also recalled that some content posted by Russian media outlets had been blocked several times by Google, including statements made by Russian authorities, content about the COVID-19 situation and measures taken by Russian government to counter the pandemic. There had been revealed numerous facts that YouTube had repeatedly blocked Russian media content, videos by NTV, Rossiya 24, RT, Sputnik, Tsargrad and many others.
Strange things with Google Maps
The Chairman of the Commission also paid attention to some strange things with Google Maps. “For example, we see clearly that island of Sardinia is part of Italy, but at the same time such islands like Iturup, Kunashir, Habomai and Shikotan for some reason are not shown as part of the Sakhalin region of Russia. The Crimean Peninsula is also displayed incorrectly,” said the parliamentarian.
“We insist that Crimea should be shown on the Russian version of the Google Maps not just so neutral like “Crimean Peninsula”, but this region should be called “the Republic of Crimea” as it is in the Constitution and legislation of the Russian Federation,” Vasilii Piskarev stressed.
Way to dialogue
During the meeting, Vasilii Piskarev presented a brochure translated into English, containing summarized requirements of Russian legislation for social networks.
“That would be very helpful for all those companies who want to work in Russia and observe the law. We are ready to send these materials to Google”, said the Chairman of the Commission and suggested that management of the IT company “would think about having content moderators in Russia.”
“Unfortunately, now we see such situation when the illegal content is not deleted promptly by Google,” said Vasilii Piskarev.
He added that the Commission offered proposed to provide methodological assistance in clarifying the norms of the Russian legislation to specialists who moderate content in Google and YouTube for users from the Russian Federation. Representatives of the company's management have expressed their willingness to cooperate.