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Russian watchdog slams Google over suicide videos

IANS  Moscow, March 19, 2013
First Published: 18:21 IST(19/3/2013) | Last Updated: 18:25 IST(19/3/2013)

Russian consumer rights watchdog has hit out at search engine Google and YouTube over what it called online suicide instruction videos.

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"Google Russia and YouTube LLC express their position based solely on a threat to the freedom of access to information on the Internet," the Rospotrebnadzor watchdog said in a statement.

The watchdog's statement came after YouTube, Google's video sharing unit, filed a lawsuit against Rospotrebnadzor over a decision to block a video containing alleged "harmful" material. A preliminary hearing into the case began Friday.

The watchdog said the video contained instructions on how to commit suicide and violated Russian law on the protection of children from harmful material.

Google said the law could be used to limit access to other forms of content.

Rospotrebnadzor also stressed while the production and promotion of videos promoting drugs and pornography is punishable under Russia's Criminal Code, the distribution of videos encouraging suicide is not a criminal offence.

The watchdog has cracked down recently on websites containing suicide-related materials, blaming them for the alarmingly high numbers of suicides among Russian teens.

The UN says around 1,700 Russian teenagers aged 15-19 take their lives every year.

Google Russia and YouTube LLC could not be immediately reached for comment Monday morning.


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