Russia’s media regulator, Roskomnadzor, has accused Google of violating Ukrainian law after it blocked access to two of its media YouTube channels in Ukraine. The Russian broadcaster RT and the news agency RIA Novosti own the two channels. In response, Russia has demanded that Google “immediately restore” access to its media YouTube channels in Ukraine.
Roskomnadzor said Google had failed to comply with a court ruling issued in October which stated that the company must not prevent access to Russian news outlets on Ukrainian soil. It accused Google of discriminating against Russian media and claimed that the move violated Ukraine’s information security laws.
The case highlights growing tensions between Russia and Ukraine over internet freedom; a war of words on YouTube and other social media platforms. As more states flex their muscles over foreign control over web content, countries will increasingly look to regulate who posts what on their web pages – a task could become increasingly difficult as technology advances rapidly.
Russia demands Google restore access to its media YouTube channels in Ukraine
Russia’s media regulator, Roskomnadzor, has accused Google of violating Ukrainian law by disabling access to some of its media YouTube channels. Google blocked access to four channels in late October 2020, citing reports of their involvement in spreading disinformation. This move has been met with outrage from the Russian government and they have issued a statement demanding Google restore access to the channels.
This article will provide background on the issue and discuss the implications of this situation.
Overview of the dispute
On April 16, 2020, Russia’s media regulator, Roskomnadzor (RKN), requested that Google restore access to at least two YouTube channels in Ukraine which it claimed had been blocked by Google in violation of Ukrainian law. The two channels—RT-Ukraine and Militainment—promoted the Kremlin’s views and were previously located on YouTube’s Ukrainian domain but are now inaccessible.
RKN cited several Ukrainian legal provisions that it argued Google violated by blocking the two channels’ access to viewers in Ukraine. These provisions specified that internet service providers operating in Ukraine must comply with the country’s media laws. This meant they had a duty to screen and filter out content that posed potential hazards of “incorrect information” being spread among Ukrainian audiences without valid reasons.
Google has yet to respond to RKN’s demands. The company operates its YouTube service within a wide range of countries and legal systems, including those governing media content distribution in Russia and Ukraine. However, the maximum penalty for non-compliance with RKN’s demand is unclear.
Russian media regulator accuses Google of violating Ukrainian law
In a statement released on Wednesday, Russia’s federal media regulator, Roskomnadzor, accused Google of violating Ukrainian law by denying access to several of its media YouTube channels. The regulator said it had received complaints from citizens who attempted to view the videos, only to be met with an error message.
Google responded quickly to the accusations by revoking the block it had placed on some of its media YouTube channels in Ukraine. However, the company said that it remains “focused on complying” with Ukrainian law and reiterated its commitment to work with authorities in Russia and Ukraine.
The conflict between Russian and Ukraine over access to digital content escalated earlier this year when Roskomnadzor asked Google to make changes to YouTube’s algorithm that would allow Google-owned media outlets such as WhoWhatWhy (a US-based nonprofit news outlet) and Unz Review (a US-based online magazine) access their content within Russian borders. Google refused to comply, reportedly stating that it may be seen as interference in another country’s internal affairs.
The recent tense exchange between Russia and Ukraine is likely part of a larger geopolitical dispute over access to digital information and control over online platforms like YouTube. However, it remains unclear whether this conflict will be legally resolved anytime soon or if either side will impose additional sanctions against technology companies operating in both countries.
Impact of the dispute
The dispute between Russia and Google over access to the Russian media YouTube channels in Ukraine has caused some ripple effects. As a result of the accusation, Google shut down access to some channels, causing a stir among the media community.
This incident has raised questions about the implications of this dispute, such as the impact on freedom of speech, digital sovereignty, and other related issues. Therefore, we will now analyze the potential impact of this dispute.
In response to the dispute, Google released a statement saying it is “continuously reviewing the situation” and “fully committed to complying with local laws and regulations.” Google also stated that it had removed content on YouTube in Ukraine which was deemed to violate Ukrainian law.
Google’s decision follows recent denunciations of Russia’s moves against Ukrainian media outlets. The US State Department has expressed its “strong concern” over the move, while the European Union has expressed solidarity with Ukraine in its dispute against Russia. In addition, the United Nations has called upon the Russian media regulator to restore access to YouTube and other websites in Ukraine that have been blocked due to alleged violations of local law.
Google did not comment on whether or not it would restore access to all YouTube channels affected by the media regulator’s action, but stated that it remains committed to though compliance with Ukrainian law.
Impact on users in Ukraine
The dispute between Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor and Google has greatly impacted users in Ukraine. In mid-March 2019, Roskomnadzor accused Google of violating Ukrainian law by allowing YouTube channels based in Russia to continue operating. This caused Google to suspend access to several of these channels, leading some users to experience service disruption.
Additionally, the dispute has stirred up tension between the two countries as Roskomnadzor expressed dissatisfaction with Google for not complying with the Ukrainian law, which is designed to restrict the dissemination of media produced by sources deemed hostile towards Ukraine. As a result, many people are now questioning whether a potential long-term solution can be negotiated and whether trust can be restored between the two entities.
Finally, it is important to note that this dispute has also caused some users in Ukraine to worry about future censorship from both Google and other media providers if similar disputes for different reasons were to arise in the future, particularly concerning political or ideological beliefs rather than nation-state laws.
Russia’s media regulator has accused Google of violating Ukrainian legislation by blocking access to four media YouTube channels in Ukraine. According to the regulator, the move violated Ukrainian law and international norms of freedom of expression.
The controversy surrounding this situation, and its implications on the freedom of information in a state, highlight the tension between states desiring to controlling the digital sphere and tech giants like Google that serve as conduits for information.
Google responded to accusations by saying it “complied with an order from Ukraine’s authorities that could not be challenged in court”. However, this recent set of events will likely call into question the role these giants play in upholding international law regarding censorship, thus warranting closer examination.