Google removes government-banned sites from Russian search results, report says

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Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google has begun to tweak its search results in Russia to remove websites that’ve been blacklisted by the government’s communications agency, according to a report Wednesday by Vedomosti, a local newspaper.

Since 2017, the government has required search engines in the country to delete sites banned by the agency, called Roskomnadzor. Some of those search results include sites on child pornography, drugs and suicide, but some critics have also accused the agency of pushing state censorship, according to the Moscow Times.

Google was fined $7,500 in November 2018 for not complying with the regulation, the newspaper said.

“We’re committed to enabling access to information for the benefit of our users in Russia and around the world,” a Google spokesman said in a statement. The company wouldn’t comment specifically about the Russian news report.  

Google deleted about 70 percent of the blacklisted sites, Vedomosti reported. The Russian government has made 175 requests for the company to remove banned sites, according to a transparency report updated by Google in October.

The news comes as Google faces questions about censorship around the world. The search giant has been under intense scrutiny over Dragonfly, an effort to bring Google search back to China. The search engine would’ve reportedly abided by government censorship, blacklisting terms like “human rights” and “Tiananmen Square.” But after pressure from lawmakers and protesters within Google, the company reportedly shut down the project.

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