17 May 2022 12:54

No plans to block YouTube in Russia - digital development minister

MOSCOW. May 17 (Interfax) - There are no plans to block the YouTube video hosting service in Russia, Minister of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media Maksut Shadayev said.

"We are not planning to block YouTube, this is all I can say. First of all, indeed, whenever we block anything, we should clearly understand that no harm will be done to our users," Shadayev said at the New Horizons forum of the Znaniye (Knowledge) society on Tuesday.

"Competition is the driver of progress, so isolation is a measure of the last resort and we need to have our own, in my understanding, competitive alternative by then. Unless a certain line is crossed, of course, when access to the public is used for pushing an information agenda that is generally hostile towards our country," Shadayev said.

"Our priority is modern digital services, which should be available to every citizen no matter what part of the country they are in. Our task is to have our own competitive analogue, which will appear not because we block YouTube but because it develops in a competitive environment. This is the only driver of progress," he said.

Shadayev recalled the story of the Yandex search engine, which grew out of competition with Google. "We are not restricting access to the Google search engine, which motivates Yandex among others to fight for their share of the market and to invest in technology," Shadayev said.

According to Shadayev, Russia does not want to isolate itself from the global Internet but it would be necessary to build security barriers.

"We do not want to isolate ourselves from anyone. Quite the opposite, we believe that Russia should remain a part of the worldwide web," he said.

In the opinion of Shadayev, Russia should learn how "to fine-tune the filtering" of information available on the Internet. "We should build barriers to prevent excessive pressure on users," he said.

Shadayev also said that Russian company Yandex will remain in Russia.

"I am sure that Yandex connects its future with Russia. Despite the fact that there are temporary restrictions on access to technology, our colleagues will definitely stay and develop within the country," Shadaev said.

He called reports of the company's relocation to Israel a mistake. "A mistake came out there. We got the original copy of the letter from Yandex to the Israeli government. It talked about simplified visa procedures for a limited number of specialists. That's a few dozen specialists who are in Israel," he said.