You have to love when politics and people’s right to internet freedoms gets mixed up in the same kiddie pool. For Russia, this is certainly happening under the hand of Vladimir Putin. According to the Dutch owned Moscow Times, Russia is notifying Google, Facebook and Twitter that they are being required to register as “organizers of information distribution.”
This action is one more big step towards what seems to be a governed mass media in Russia, as there is almost no independent journalism in the country anymore. If the US internet companies don’t register with Russia’s media “watchdog” by the end of the year, they will be facing unspecified sanctions for non-compliance. A Russian official has said that fines won’t be the main penalty for failure to comply.
This entire story seems to be very reminiscent of China and their desire to control what people consume online. The question remains, will the citizens of Russia protest this movement that their government is taking, or will they simply accept what Putin is doing? I suppose only time will tell.
As far as the censorship is concerned, Google, Facebook and Twitter will have to deal with difficult questions relating o economic, moral, and philosophical questions on how to continue operation in Russia.
Liveinternet.ru says that Google controls just under 35 percent of search in Russia, which is nothing to sneeze at, considering Yandex is the leading engine with 54 percent. Things aren’t looking as great for Bing, as they only control about 0.6 percent of the search market.