Google may be blocked in Russia & country is ready to change laws to do it – watchdog

Russian legislation may be amended to allow harsher sanctions against foreign IT-companies, including blocking Google, that keep violating the country’s laws, Russia’s telecom watchdog Roskomnadzor warned.

Earlier this week, Google was fined 500,000 rubles ($7,500) for refusing to connect its search engine to the federal database of banned websites. The penalty almost feels like a mockery, considering that Alphabet holding company, which Google is part of, earned almost $110 billion last year.

“If fines won’t have any effect on the behavior of the foreign company, there’s a possibility that the legislation will be changed, which will allow blocking Goggle in Russia,” Vadim Subbotin, the deputy head of Roskomnadzor, said.

Blocking will become the toughest possible measure,” but it would be justified, considering the content of the banned websites Google allows its users to browse freely, he said.

A new law was introduced in Russia this October that obliges all operators of search engines to exclude terrorist, extremist and other illegal websites from their search results.

To do so, they should link up with a database of around 120,000 banned URLs, compiled by the Russian authorities.

However, Google refuses to filter the illegal content, despite Roskomnadzor holding several meetings with the representatives of the US tech giant and explaining the legalities to them.

In September, the watchdog also threated to block Facebook in Russia as the company violated the bans on storing of Russian citizens’ personal data on servers located outside the country.

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