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Google Gets Warned By Russia For Meddling In The Elections

Russia has long pushed for greater control of information published by Russian users.

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A Google logo is seen at the company's headquarters in Mountain View, California, VOA
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Russia on Tuesday said it has officially warned US internet giant Google against meddling in next Sunday’s local elections by posting opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s videos calling for mass protests.

Representatives of Russia’s electoral commission, the Prosecutor-General’s Office and the state internet watchdog at a meeting alleged Navalny uses Google’s services to disseminate illegal information and warned that the company may be prosecuted if it does not act to stop this.

A Google spokeswoman declined to give a specific comment, telling AFP in an emailed statement that the company “reviews all valid requests from government institutions.”

Central Election Commission member Alexander Klyukin said the commission had sent an official letter to Larry Page, the CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet, regarding Navalny’s use of YouTube.

The fierce Kremlin critic has urged Russians to protest on September 9, when several Russian regions and Moscow elect regional and local officials.

Russia
Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, wikimedia commons

Navalny is currently serving a 30-day sentence for violating public order laws during a protest earlier this year.

“Mr. Navalny buys the company’s advertising tools to publish information on YouTube about the mass political event on September 9, on the day of elections,” Klyukin said.

“We informed Google that such events on election day will lead to massive violation of the law” because political agitation is banned on election day, he said.

“Meddling by a foreign company in our election is not permitted.”

He called Google a “gigantic American company” and hinted that Washington uses it as an influence tool.

US officials have repeatedly warned about the dangers of Russian interference in upcoming elections and there is a full-scale probe underway into Moscow’s alleged role in the 2016 presidential election which brought Donald Trump to office.

Russia
Central Election Commission member Alexander Klyukin said the commission had sent an official letter to Larry Page, the CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet. (VOA)

‘Mouthpiece’ for illegal information

The deputy chief of Russia’s internet watchdog Roskomnadzor, Vadim Subbotin, accused “foreign internet platforms” of disrespecting Russian laws and serving as a “mouthpiece for disseminating illegal information.”

He said Google-owned YouTube “acts as a link in the chain for propaganda of anti-social behaviour during Russian elections.”

He said “over 40” YouTube channels “constantly call for violating Russian law.”

“Certain parties interested in destabilising the situation in Russia attempt to attract internet users to illegal actions by providing unlimited opportunities on foreign internet giants like Google,” he said.

If Google fails to respond to official complaints, this will be seen as “de-facto direct intervention in Russia’s domestic affairs,” he said.

Russia
Russia Warns Google Against Election Meddling. Wikimedia Commons

The officials discussed their grievances against Google during a meeting at Russia’s upper house of parliament.

Also Read: Google: Flagship Pixel Watch Not Coming in 2018

Alexei Zhafyarov, an official from the Prosecutor-General’s Office, said it had sent an official warning to Google over the “inadmissibility” of violating Russian election law.

“This is a rather serious measure, after which they can be called to account,” including via criminal prosecution, he said.

Russia has long pushed for greater control of information published by Russian users on international platforms to curb political dissent and prevent terrorism. (VOA)

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Google Sends Email to Employees Asking Them to Delete China Search Engine Memo

The China search engine would link users' search history to their personal phone numbers, according to the memo

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Google
Google asks employees to delete China search engine memo: Report. Wikimedia Commons

In its bid to suppress a memo revealing information about a plan to launch a censored search engine in China, Google has sent an email to employees asking them to delete the sensitive document, The Intercept reported.

Authored by a Google engineer familiar with the project, the memo disclosed that the search system would require users in China to log in to perform searches.

Codenamed Dragonfly, the search engine would track the location of users and share the data with a Chinese partner who would have “unilateral access” to the data, said the report on Friday, citing the memo.

The news about Google’s plan to build a censored search engine in China broke in August when The Intercept reported that the search platform would blacklist “sensitive queries” about topics including politics, free speech, democracy, human rights and peaceful protest, triggering internal protests among some Google employees.

Two weeks after that report, Google CEO Sundar Pichai told the company’s employees that the China plan was in its “early stages” and “exploratory”.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai
Google CEO Sundar Pichai. (Wikimedia Commons)

A group of Google employees who were organising internal protests over the censored search system got access to the memo detailing information about the project.

The Google leadership, according to the The Intercept report, were furious when they discovered that the memo was being passed among employees who were not supposed to know about about the Dragonfly project.

Also Read- India Gets Its Sex Offender Registry

The China search engine would link users’ search history to their personal phone numbers, according to the memo.

This means if security agencies were to obtain the search records from Google, individual people could easily be tracked and users seeking out information banned by the government could potentially be at risk of interrogation or detention. (IANS)