Google Blocked in Russia as Part of Online Gambling Dispute
Russian telecom authorities briefly blocked access to Google.ru last week as part of an ongoing dispute with the search giant over links to online gambling sites. Though service was restored after just a few hours, the incident points out the increasingly hard line the country is taking in its battle against unauthorized online gambling.
The Google blockade was enacted and enforced by Roskomnadzor, the Russian internet regulator which also controls the flow of digital information going in and out of the country. Roskonadzor was peeved because Google continued to offer its users access to a disputed Russian bookmaker called Fonbet.
While Roskonadzor’s actions may seem severe to the laymen, the roots of this particular dispute go back more than a year. Back in June 2016, the Russian tax agency directed Roskonadzor to block Google but gave the company a year to remedy the situation with unregulated online gambling sites. By all accounts, Google seems to have simply ignored that directive and continued on about its business.
When the one year deadline passed, Roskonadzor pulled the plug on Google.ru and that, it turned out, got Google’s immediate attention. Once the lights went dark, Google engineers quickly removed the offending links and the whole situation was resolved within just three hours.
In all fairness to Google, keeping up with the massive amount of sites that are banned by the Russian government is a big job. That said, any internet company doing business in Russia, especially if their business covers online gambling, should be well aware of the country’s strict rules regarding unregulated internet gambling.