Google Challenges Russia's YouTube Censorship

Dennis Faas's picture

Google has failed to overturn a Russian ban on a YouTube video that allegedly offers tips on how to commit suicide. Google insists the clip actually offers advice on how to properly apply make up.

The clip was taken down by Google last November after receiving an order from Russia's Federal Consumer Protection Service (FCPS). It was among the first takedowns under a new law that gives the government the right to block any websites deemed harmful to children.

Blacklisted pages can include any sites that promote drug use or suicide. Officials said those guidelines certainly applied to the YouTube clip which was titled "Video Lesson: How to Cut Veins =D".

Google says the clip has been misinterpreted and in fact shows viewers how to apply make up. Although the clip is said to include images of a razor blade, it appears it is blunt and not actually used, while the blood is fake.

The Ukrainian woman who made the video backs Google's stance.

New Censorship Laws Mean Major YouTube Takedown

Google says Russia's new rules have led to a massive increase in video takedown requests. In the first half of 2012 it had a total of six such requests. In the second half of the year that figure was 114.

The rules have sparked debate about government influence over the Internet. Some critics fear the rules could be used to censor Internet content that may not reflect well on the government or its supporters.

Google decided to appeal the "suicide" video's ban in February, using it as a test case for the entire law. That appeal has now been heard and rejected by Russian courts.

Expert Witnesses Challenged On Both Sides

The Federal Consumer Protection Service has strongly challenged the qualifications of a psychology professor hired by Google who argued, in court, that the clip did not encourage suicide. However, the court ruled that the FCPS itself didn't have to provide the credentials for its own expert witnesses. (Source:

Although Google hasn't yet revealed whether it will continue fighting the ban, it did issue a press statement saying, "We do not believe the goal of the law was to limit access to videos that are clearly intended to entertain viewers." (Source:

| Tags:
Rate this article: 
No votes yet