Moscow Attorney’s Office to investigate abortion ads on search engines


“The Prosecutor General’s Office has prioritised the complaint filed by the Safe Internet League against Internet search engines advertising abortion services, and forwarded it to the Moscow Attorney’s Office for investigation. This makes up hopeful that the investigation we helped initiate will yield proper results, and that together with the Attorney’s Office we well define the liability search engines must assume for dissemination abortion ads,’ announced Safe Internet League CEO Denis Davydov.

In particular, the Prosecutor General’s Office’s reply stated that ‘to expedite the legal response to the complaint in question it was forwarded to the Moscow Attorney’s Office for immediate investigation and, given sufficient grounds, legal action.’

Previously this year, in October, the Safe Internet League filed a complaint with the Prosecutor General’s Office against Google and Yandex for dissemination of contextual ads for abortion services and abortion-inducing drugs, which is illegal under the country’s Advertisement Act. The complaint contained concrete examples of contextual ads shown by Google and Yandex, with details of medical institutions offering the services. And while in case of Yandex the language of these ads could have been called veiled, Google’s ads were explicitly marketing abortions, quoting prices and describing methods of pregnancy termination.

‘An Internet search engine is not just a machine for finding information. It is a mediator of sorts, and, if a search engine offers illegal harmful content, it is helping to disseminate it. It’s time the companies behind them realise that and review their policies with regards to providing information prohibited in Russia. Otherwise the authorities will have to consider restrictive measures and policy changes that would stop this from happening,’ explained Mr Davydov.