MOSCOW, November 19 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s media and communications watchdog Roskomnadzor temporarily banned Google on Sunday in what a spokesman for the agency later attributed to a “technical failure.”
“Hopefully, no one experienced any serious inconvenience,” said Roskomnadzor spokesman Vladimir Pikov, adding that the glitch had been fixed by early Monday morning.
Russian Internet users pointed out on Sunday night that the Internet search engine’s IP address, 18.104.22.168, appeared on the registry of websites containing harmful information. Once a website is registered as harmful, network operators are forced to shut off access.
The registry is part of a new initiative to protect children from harmful or inappropriate content on the Internet, and is founded in a controversial law that came into force on November 1. Critics claim the law enhances the authorities’ ability to implement a broader crackdown on freedom of speech and information.
The blacklist attracted even more attention after the inclusion on the registry of several popular – and seemingly harmless – websites, including an online library and an online encyclopedia.
Google signaled its willingness earlier this month to comply with the new Russian law. The Califnornia-based search engine currently holds about 26 percent of the search engine market in Russia.