Yandex, Russia’s search engine, was hours from being completely shutdown by order of the Moscow Court. They had no choice but to block alleged piracy sites. The suit was filed by Gazprom Media, controlled by Gazprom, which is controlled by the Russian state, which is controlled by Vladimir Putin.
Google and Facebook would almost certainly be vulnerable if the decision is upheld. So could any site that disregards Russian law, which certainly would find much of the Western press criminally liable for “libelous” reporting about Russia. In a case heard in a Russian court, I doubt The New York Times would have much hope, especially after the American President’s attacks on the press.
Ironically, the best reason for Russia to shut down Google is to protect Yandex and Vkontakte. Economists speak of “infant industries.” Tencent, Alibaba, and perhaps Baidu have been able to compete with Google and Facebook. None of the European are within half a trillion of the scale of the U.S. giants. Only those protected – the Chinese – have cracked the top ten.
Even Vladimir Putin’s massive popularity would suffer if he blocked Google and Facebook. He has to lay the groundwork for legitimacy.