Summary:

Russia’s new internet blacklist agency is busy naming “illegal” sites ISPs must block. But the government says search engines should not be blocked for pointing to those sites with excerpts of illegal content.

More and more sites are getting blacklisted by Russia’s new hitlist of digital child porn and other supposedly law-breaking content.

But, despite some recent examples, search engines are not supposed to be amongst the list.

Russia’s Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Communications (Roskomnadzor) has issued a “clarification” to say Web search, image search, news search, video search and other content cached by search engines like Google, Yandex and Bing should not be included in the recently-launched Zapret web blacklist.

This is despite recent inclusion of Google image search and YouTube, which is put down to a “mistake” (via Roem.ru).

Such a distinction by the Russian government is an important one at a time when Google is facing growing international challenges to its long-held operating model. An Australian court ruled that Google search had been a publisher of material deemed defamatory, while a proposed German law would require Google pay a license to publish excerpts of third-parties’ news articles.

Some campaigners out there, like former Formula One boss Max Mosley, want Google to pro-actively strip out excerpts from “illegal” websites, alleviating complainants’ need to go to dozens of individual end sites to which Google points. But the Russian government’s position seems sensible since it blocks access to illegal material at source, not at the signpost.

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