YouTube Files Suit Over Russian Content Law

Google Inc.'s video-sharing unit YouTube LLC said on Tuesday it filed its first lawsuit against Russian regulators over a controversial new law that restricts content that officials deem potentially harmful to children.
The law, which took effect in November, gives communications regulators the authority to block access to content considered "hazardous to the health and development" of children by "promoting" drugs and suicide.

Critics of the law say it is vague and could be used to censor Internet content. Authorities deny that and say the law has been working well.

YouTube filed the suit on Monday in a Moscow court, challenging a decision issued by Rospotrebnadzor—the government consumer-rights regulator that handles content alleged to promote suicide—to restrict access to a video clip posted on the website. A spokesman for the agency said it hadn't seen the lawsuit yet and couldn't comment.

In an emailed statement, Google said, "In this case, we have appealed the decision of Russian consumer watchdog because we do not believe that the goal of the law was to limit access to videos that are clearly intended to entertain viewers." The web-search giant added that it restricts content on country-specific domains where a nation's laws require it.

The video, entitled, "Video lesson on how to cut your veins =D," was uploaded on Jan. 18, 2012 and shows a young woman demonstrating how to create the appearance of a slashed wrist with a dull razorblade, medical glue, cotton and fake blood. After regulators cited it under the new law as propagandizing suicide, YouTube blocked access to it for users in Russia.

Google's suit appears to be the first legal challenge to the law, analysts said. The Russian Association of Electronic Communication's chief analyst Irina Levova said she knows of at least one similar lawsuit being prepared by another company against the regulator.

"My forecast is there will be a string of lawsuits, there will be more lawyers involved because there will be good [public relations], and eventually things will get to the constitutional court and the law will be canceled," said Ivan Zassoursky, chair of the new media and communications department at the Moscow State University and president of the Association of Internet Publishers.

Source:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324880504578299900516580918.html?mod=WSJ_Tech_Europe_LeftTopNews

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