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Google pulls Russia Today, Sputnik from Play Store as EU ban looms – TechCrunch

Google has adopted Apple’s lead and eliminated the apps of Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik from its cell app Store, Play, per Reuters.

The two Kremlin-lined media shops have been sanctioned within the European Union following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

It’s not instantly clear if the Play Store ban on the Russian state-affiliated media entities’ apps is proscribed to the EU — the place a ban on the 2 entities is predicted to return into pressure at the moment.

Google had beforehand banned the RT News app in Ukraine on the request of the federal government in Kyiv.

We’ve reached out to the corporate for extra particulars on the Play Store ban and can replace this report as we get extra.

As we reported earlier, the EU’s authorized ban on RT and Sputnik will cowl all distribution channels, together with on-line platforms — offering a tough deadline for platform giants to behave in opposition to RT, Sputnik and their subsidiaries.

Some particular person EU Member States have beforehand banned RT broadcasts in their very own territories, such as Germany which banned the German-language version of the Russian state broadcaster earlier this month — however the incoming pan-EU sanction means there’ll shortly be a much more intensive blanket ban throughout the area.

Yesterday, forward of the EU’s sanction coming into pressure, Google announced blocks on the YouTube channels of RT and Sputnik.

However in that case it’s only geoblocking entry to their YouTube channels within the EU, the place the authorized sanction will apply, quite than suspending their accounts globally.

Google has due to this fact confronted some criticism for less than implementing a partial block on Russian propaganda.

Google has additionally appeared slightly slower to react to the Ukraine disaster in comparison with another platforms.

Yesterday Apple confirmed it’ll take away the RT and Sputnik News apps from its iOS App Store in all markets exterior Russia itself, as it responded to the invasion of Ukraine.

Microsoft, in the meantime, had additionally already banned RT from its Windows app retailer and de-ranked each information sources in its search engine Bing — announcing a package deal of measures Monday.

Other tech companies have additionally scrambled to place out restrictions on Russian state-affiliated media within the wake of the invasion of Ukraine, with Twitter increasing its labelling coverage to flag to tweets which comprise hyperlinks to the media shops’ content material earlier this week, as nicely as decreasing the visibility of the content material itself.

Although Twitter has additionally faced some criticism from European leaders for not blocking the accounts themselves.

In additional restricted measures introduced earlier this week, Facebook mentioned it’s now geoblocking RT and Sputnik within the EU, as did TikTok.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine final Thursday, political leaders in Europe and Commission lawmakers have been making use of excessive stage stress to mainstream tech platforms to do extra to sort out what the bloc’s president described Sunday as Russia’s “toxic media machine” — trailing what she additionally couched as “unprecedented” sanctions on RT and Sputnik.

The Commission’s evaluation is that the 2 Kremlin-linked media entities are a key strategic piece of Putin’s struggle equipment.

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