Russia bans Google News for spreading ‘false information’

Roskomnadzor recently restricted access to Google News. The Russian media regulator accuses the site of providing access to “false” information about the war in Ukraine, Russian news agencies reported on Wednesday.

This decision was taken at the request of the Russian General Prosecutor’s Office. Google News “provided access to many publications and materials that contain false information […] on the conduct of the special military operation on Ukrainian territory,” said a press release from Roskomnadzor.

Banned media and social networks

Google has confirmed that some Internet users in Russia are having difficulty accessing the application and the website, a situation that is not due to “technical problems” on the American giant’s side. “We’ve worked hard to make news services like News available to people in Russia for as long as possible,” Google said.

Since the start of the war in Ukraine on February 24, the Russian government has tightened censorship on information disseminated on the Internet. Many Russian and foreign media, including the BBC, have been banned from access. The American social networks Facebook and Instagram, declared “extremist” by a Moscow court, have been banned. Access to Twitter has also been restricted.

Offenses against independent media

In mid-March, Roskomnadzor accused Google and its video service YouTube of “terrorist” activities, a first step towards a possible blockage. At the same time, the authorities introduced two new criminal offences: one for the dissemination of information “discrediting” the Russian army and the other for the dissemination of “false” information about Russian troops.

The latter offense carries penalties of up to fifteen years in prison. It particularly worries opponents and independent media, who fear prosecution for any denunciation of the Russian offensive on Ukrainian territory.

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