I hate the always authoritarian Russian State leaders, but along with millions of Europeans I used to check out RT regularily, because it actually tries to report the news, albeit from a Russian point of view, making mass Western outlets seem like pathetic spam.
Indeed recently RT has reportedly been more popular than than the official German DW channels and recently Germany flagrantly banned its new 24 hour TV channel the day it began. RT’s video channels were hugely popular and I was happy to view in depth scientific and world journalism, withiout suddenly transforming like Dracula into a ‘Putin Stooge’.
Now there’s an existential war in Russia, and RT English coverage is more obviously censored.
Even so they go over the top in reporting Western viewpoints, maybe because they are appealing the EU banning order, and I read various comments with Russian names complaining that RT should be more Russian based.
Compare with any Western outlet brandishing headlines of dubious “massacres” (eg. the great Mariupol ‘Atrocity’ where only 3 were reported killed, and those disputed) and a daily diet of “carpet bombing Kiev” which remains unflattened.
I’m not supporting Russia, but for me the greater danger is that western mass hysteria induced to support the Covid crackdown has been channeled into fanatic irrational war fever, resulting in crazy unprecedented ‘sanctions’ likely to cause a Global crash and World War, with all its consequences. The place of the evil ‘UNVAXXED’ is now taken by the evil ‘RUSSIAN DISINFORMATION’.
EU bans search engines and social platforms from “reproducing” content from sanctioned Russian media
A wide-sweeping censorship order
They trained for this day for a long time; particularly by quashing online dissent during the two years of Covid hell, and now the big day is here: once considered an aspirational beacon of democracy, the EU is deploying some of the most egregious-to-date acts of censorship and suppression of free speech and access to information – certainly, at least, for a Western democracy.
And once considered an innovative and exciting company that brings knowledge to the people, and along the way “do no evil” – Google – and its ilk – will be there to help make it happen.
What spurred the European Commission to act this way is the war in Ukraine, and the desire to completely silence the Russian side, by preventing citizens living in EU member countries from being able to see or hear any content other than that approved and pushed by Brussels.
The question of why this is necessary – does the EU really fear people across Europe will believe Russia? Or is this being done to set a precedent that could be “useful” in so many situations down the line?
One can only speculate (until that is banned by decree, too), but what is clear is that the EU thought the price to pay by using hard censorship and authoritarian tactics and thus undermining the very tenets of the bloc is somehow the price worth paying.
And this is what the EU has done. After first banning two Russian media outlets, RT and Sputnik, from broadcasting (which RT is challenging in court), the EU has now gone to Google to make sure that any content produced by these media companies is purged from the search engine, while social media posts “reproducing” it must get deleted.
When RT and Sputnik got banned, there was some push-back from speech advocates in Europe, but those behind the decision vigorously defended it – if at times giving away how fully aware they are of the way their actions are perceived – namely, as Orwellian.
EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell (who has been “on fire” these last weeks – he just proposed imposing sanctions on people labeled as spreading misinformation) told members of the European Parliament that the EU in fact “doesn’t have ministers of truth” and dismissed the Russian outlets as not being independent media (as if all media broadcasting in the EU is “independent” and not affiliated with different states.)
He went a step further, accusing them of being “Kremlin’s weapons.”
At the same time, another commissioner revealed that the plan is to keep trying to “reach the Russian people and provide them with (EU’s ) information” – effectively saying that the EU hopes to do exactly what it says it is preventing Russia from doing.
There is an email submitted to the Lumen database on March 4, sent by the European Commission and containing a government removal request.
Citing a previously adopted regulation to ban RT and Sputnik, the request states that the prohibition the EU intends to impose is to be “very broad and comprehensive.”pumping billions of dollars in arms into Ukraine.
The job of internet search services like Google here is to index results with any possible content that the EU has deemed to be “misinformation and propaganda,” as well as websites throughout the world, and delist them.
“It follows from the foregoing that by virtue of the regulation, providers of internet search services must make sure that any link to the internet sites of RT and Sputnik and any content of RT and Sputnik, including short textual descriptions, visual elements, and links to corresponding websites do not appear in the search results delivered to users located in the EU,” the EU notice sent to Google reads.
Social-media-wise, the EU wants posts made by individuals who “reproduce” RT and Sputnik content to be deleted. A reference is made repeatedly to “proportionality” – i.e., between restrictive policies and people’s right to freedom of speech.
“Pursuant to the freedom of speech, media have the right to report objectively on current events and to form their opinions thereon. The freedom of speech also entails that users have the right to receive objective information on current events,” writes the EU, but then adds: “At the same time, the right to free speech can be restricted for legitimate public interests in a proportionate manner.”
At the end of the day, little of this has to do with the current war in the East of Europe. More likely it’s another instance of the authorities using a crisis to slip through dangerous policies that would in normal circumstances receive much more pushback.