YouTube remains in Russia to be an independent news source: CEO

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the CEO was upbeat about her company's role in Russia, whilst a panel of experts tackled the issue of health data privacy.
Written by Julian Bingley, Contributor

YouTube has remained in Russia to serve as a source of independent news, according to CEO Susan Wojcicki who spoke at the Davos World Economic Forum on Tuesday where she also addressed the company's decision to remove Russian state media from the platform.

"As soon as the war broke out, we realised this was an incredibly important time for us to get it right with regard to our responsibility," said Wojcicki.

The CEO explained the company had updated its policies to remove Russian state media from its platform, as well as other content, in an effort to stem misinformation that sought to deny or trivialise the war in Ukraine.

Read: YouTube moves to block Russian state-funded media globally

Wojcicki added the YouTube platform had been used for "all kinds of humanitarian reasons" throughout the conflict, such as aiding medical professionals on the battlefield and educating children isolated from school as a result of the war.

Further to this, the CEO detailed how Russia has been pushing citizens toward Rutube, a Russian video platform with similarities to YouTube, but added that she was not concerned by the emergence of the service.

With regard to other social media and content services, Russian communications agency Roskomnadzor announced in March it was blocking access to Facebook, alleging the US social media giant had discriminated against Russian media and information resources, whilst Netflix chose to shut down its service in the country. TikTok also announced in March that it would suspend any livestreaming and new content on its video service.

Meanwhile, in Davos on Tuesday, the dichotomy between innovation and health data protection was discussed by a panel of experts.

Director and co-founder of Access Now Brett Solomon took a human-rights centric approach proclaiming that it's proved to be "historically problematic" to leave human rights at the mercy of market forces, placing specific emphasis on the realm of health data.

"It's become very clear as a result of the pandemic, how important health data is to us as individuals, and we don't know where all of that information is in terms of the contact tracing apps, in terms of where it's being held by big pharma," said Solomon.

Wipro CTO Subha Tatavarti disagreed, pointing to the positives of retaining health data so that businesses can share information to allow for faster innovation of important medicine.

On Wednesday, the Western Australian government committed AU$8 million towards data linkage reforms and public sector capabilities to address social, economic, and health issues.

The funding would ensure better cybersecurity protection of sensitive health data, support health experts in conducting research, and streamline existing government services, Minister of Innovation and ICT Stephen Dawson said.

"Improved linkage capabilities will enable decisions to be better informed by data and will aid researchers in their efforts to improve the health and wellbeing of all Western Australians," said Dawson. 

Previously the Auditor-General of Western Australia had given state authorities a whack for security weaknesses in IT systems used in the state after a report on its contact tracing system was released earlier this month.

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