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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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Tech Giant Google Letting Android Users Create Events on Maps

Google's plans for a wider roll-out of the feature remain unknown

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The Google logo is seen at a start-up campus in Paris, France, Feb. 15, 2018. VOA

Google is letting Android users create public events on Maps through the app’s existing Contribute section, allowing them to set name, location, date and time of the event along with tags and images.

“You can add public events to Google Maps from your Android phone or tablet,” the search-engine giant wrote on the Maps support page.

Event listings would help users streamline time-specific activities and choose what suits them best.

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A Google logo is displayed at the entrance to the internet based company’s offices in Toronto. VOA

“It’s all part of the app’s transformation from a service that tells you how to get somewhere into one that tells you where you might want to go in the first place,” The Verge reported on Monday.

Google’s plans for a wider roll-out of the feature remain unknown.

Also Read- Microsoft Asks Social Media Platforms to Act Fast on Terror

“Google Maps’ implementation is a little laggy at the moment, with events taking up to an hour to actually appear on a map. Hopefully, this improves as the functionality is more widely rolled out,” the report said. (IANS)