Google Was Put In Its Place: IT Giant Banned From Censorship In Russia

The American corporation that owns the “YouTube” video hosting service, in fact, for the first time was directly struck on the nose: the Tagansky Court of Moscow demanded to lift the restrictions imposed on the documentary “Beslan”. In fact, a precedent has been created indicating that it is unacceptable to influence Russian content from abroad without permission. But that’s not all. The next step is to unblock the “YouTube” accounts of “Tsargrad”, “Dvuglavogo Orla”, and dozens of others to which the company from the US decided to extend American sanctions.

The Tagansky District Court of Moscow agreed with the demands of the prosecutor of the capital to remove the restrictions imposed by the American corporation “Google” against the documentary film of Aleksandr Rogatkin “Beslan” – about the tragedy that occurred in September 2004 in North Ossetia, when terrorists seized school No. 1 in Beslan.

This film, we recall, was posted on “YouTube” after being shown on state TV channels. However, almost immediately, the video hosting service put a “black mark” on the film, effectively cutting off those who wanted to watch it: first, they introduced the need for authorisation, and secondly, a cover appeared that indicated “the video may be unacceptable for some viewers” and “the content was identified by the YouTube community as inappropriate or offensive”.

And, being typical in this case, no one knows what, in fact, the reasons are that guided “YouTube” for such harsh measures.

Because, for example, there are a lot of videos dedicated to this topic – with “alternative” views on events. And – nothing, they do not interfere with them.

3,000 vile YouTube pages

Not really. They do interfere, of course. And those who praise “heroes-fighters” and, accordingly, stigmatise “bad special forces”, and many, many others.

They are harmful, false and vicious – and let anyone shout about “violations of freedom of speech”, but the distortion of truth, facts and history in general, when everything is turned upside down, is in no way unacceptable.

But the most important thing is that it exists in the Russian segment of video hosting, which means that it is aimed at our viewers, including young people, who are the main audience of YouTube.

Here, for understanding, are some figures.

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The Public Chamber of Russia, together with Roskomnadzor, during the monitoring of the “Google” video platform, found more than 3,000 (think about it!) videos with explicit extremist content. This was announced by the first Deputy Chairman of the Public Chamber Commission for the Development of the Information Community, Mass Media and Mass Communications Aleksandr Malkevich during the recent round table “Censorship – no: where to find justice concerning Google?”.

“There is a wide range, from terrorist videos to footage of torture. And they don’t have any blocking at all,” Malkevich said.

But the most interesting thing is the complete disregard for the instructions of Roskomnadzor, these videos were there and still remain.

At the same time, Russian media accounts are being removed from “YouTube” in a completely brazen manner, without warnings or explanations. In total, more than 200 accounts of Internet publications, journalists, and public figures were removed.

Ordinary citizens also spoke out against the censorship of “Google” on the day of the court decision on Beslan

Facebook and Twitter do much the same thing.

But all of this is purely selective.

Mainly those profiles that are considered to be patriotic, conservative, i.e., opposed to the notorious “western values” that are completely unacceptable to our society, go under the virtual knife of “Google” cleaners.

Guys, you seem to have lost your way: you are in Russia, and here are our laws

A striking example here is the attack on the accounts of the “Tsargrad” TV channel, the “Dvuglavogo Orla” society for the development of Russian historical education, one of the main Crimean channels, and a number of resources that cover the real situation in Donbass without embellishment.

And here it is possible – and necessary – to talk not about the actions of “Google” itself, but about a purposeful policy directed against Russia as such. After all, it has long been known that the IT giant is very closely linked to the American intelligence services and, as has been noted more than once by investigators (by the way, not only Russian, if anything), at one time it was created with the money of the US intelligence community.

It is noteworthy that the account of “First Russian” was removed from the video hosting site exactly a month after the channel crossed the threshold of one million regular subscribers.

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And for a long time, despite statements about the inadmissibility of such actions of “Google” from the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights, the Foreign Ministry, and the Kremlin, the Moscow Representative Office of the corporation could not give a clear answer to the question – why did they delete it?

And it turned out to be extremely strange, but paradoxical: they say that everything happened because American sanctions were imposed on the founder of “Tsargrad”, Konstantin Malofeyev, back in 2014 – for helping refugees from war-torn Donbass.

I.e., what is going on?

For six (!) years, the channel’s account was present in the video hosting service, and no one in Silicon Valley remembered the restrictive measures against it. And then, as soon as the channel “First Russian” acquired a million subscribers – boom, they are alarmed. Right?

But wait, guys, they [Silicon Valley – ed] received an answer! And what about the fact that these sanctions, although imposed against Malofeyev, are made in the US. And the account of “Tsargrad” on YouTube is actually in Russia, and, accordingly, in our country, our domestic legislation applies.

Moreover, just in July, the priority of Russian law over international law was approved by amendments to the Constitution.

What, are you going to apply your sanctions on our territory?

A question of principle and justice

It turned out, to put it bluntly, to be an act of spitting in the direction of the whole country as a whole.

And not to react to something like that – well, it is simply impossible. All the more so soon the film by Rogatkin about Beslan was marked with a “black mark”.

And now the Tagansky Court recognised these actions as illegal, contrary to Russian law.

“Let’s just say that this can be seen as a precedent – in the sense that the Russian court speaks about the priority of our law over Google’s internal rules, which it can use to label content that it considers to be ‘wrong’ (from its point of view). After all, it is logical that if the content of materials published on ‘YouTube’ complies with our legislation, then Russian citizens should have unlimited access to it. Because our law does not restrict it in any way. Otherwise, a person who sees such ‘Google’ marks about ‘offensive content’ gets the impression that they are going to do something like this… obscene, bad,” explains Artur Zurabyan, head of the dispute resolution practice at the “Art de Lex” law firm, who represents Tsargrad in a dispute with Google in the Moscow Court of Arbitration.

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And this should not be so in any way.

According to him, the defendants, appearing at a preliminary hearing in court, said that they are not ready to say anything on the merits, and in general – the decision will be made in the central, i.e., American headquarters of Google.

The court asked the question, of course, who, sorry, will represent the interests of Google? But no exact explanation has been received.

The lawyer notes that the position of “Tsargrad” has not changed since the filing of the claim: Google’s actions are illegal, and the “Tsargrad” account must be restored without any reservations.

“In fact, with regard to the sanctions imposed on Malofeyev, they have never been recognised as a sufficient reason for violating the rights of Russian citizens and organisations,” Zurabyan notes. “And the law that came into force recently confirmed these provisions and granted additional powers to those entities that fall under such sanctions, including the possibility of resolving disputes with their participation in Russia, regardless of what agreement was specified in the contract with a foreign company.”

The next court hearing is scheduled for November 24th. It is difficult to predict how long the process will last.

However, the very fact of what is happening is important: the adoption by the Arbitration of a positive decision in favor of “Tsargrad” following the judicial demand to unblock “Beslan” will actually mean the possibility of real implementation of our, in fact, domestic legislation – and, as a result, the end of western censorship in Russia, which we are seeing today.

We also remind that “Tsargrad” and the Human Rights Center of the World Russian People’s Council sent an appeal to the Prosecutor General’s Office with a request to take measures to restore the blocked account of the TV channel on “YouTube”.

Aleksandr Stepanov

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