The newest victim of Kremlin censorship is Google News. After the Russian government banned Facebook and Instagram for their “extremist activities” after users were able to post comments inciting violence against Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian forces stationed in Ukraine, Google News is now being restricted in the nation.
Indeed, after accusing Google News of providing access to “false” material regarding Russia’s war in Ukraine, the country’s telecommunications regulator, Roskomnadzor, has stopped the service. The internet information service “provided access to numerous publications and documents containing false information (…) on the conduct of the special military operation on Ukrainian territory,” according to the group. Roskomnadzor also reminded the public that publishing false information about Russia’s military forces is punishable under Russian law.
While some social media platforms, such as TikTok, have decided to leave Russia because users risk being arrested if they distribute information about the platform, other companies, such as Netflix, have decided to limit their streaming service in Russia in response to the conflict in Ukraine.
Russia manages to control a big portion of the information circulating on its territory thanks to the withdrawal of all of the country’s major market participants; nonetheless, some hackers have managed to communicate the truth about the battle. For example, Anonymous was successful in pirating Russian TV channels in order to broadcast photos of the battle in Ukraine. The cyber group has recently hacked printers to spread anti-Putin propaganda after attacking several areas of the government as well as the Russian secret service.
Meanwhile, the Google Play app and digital content store in Russia have lately stopped working. After the revelation that Roskomnadzor has barred access to the Google News news aggregator in the Russian Federation, reports of problems with access to the service began to surface.
According to the Globalcheck platform, the play.google.com app store site is not available in Russia at the time of writing. At the same time, some users continue to have access, while others have problems — for some, the site does not open at all, while for others, it opens slowly. The amount of complaints concerning the Play Store’s operation hasn’t increased significantly, according to Downdetector.