A Moscow court sentenced the US group Google to a fine of three million rubles (around 35,700 euros) on Monday for failing to delete content that was considered illegal. The fine is part of a wider dispute between Russia and the US tech giant.
In October, the Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor threatened Google with a million dollar fine equivalent to a percentage of its annual sales in Russia for repeatedly failing to delete prohibited content from its search engine and YouTube. It was Moscow’s sharpest move to date to put foreign technology companies in their place. A Russian court fined Google back in August. The US company was supposed to pay the equivalent of 162,000 euros at the time, since “prohibited content” was not deleted. Critics, on the other hand, complained about restrictions on freedom of expression on the Internet. Google recently said it paid more than 32 million rubles in fines. That reported the Reuters news agency.
Moscow is tightening the reins
Since the beginning of 2021, Russian courts have been imposing fines on tech giants such as Facebook, Google, Twitter and TikTok if they do not block or remove content on their platforms that is classified as illegal in Russia, including calls for prohibited demonstrations, or the data of Russian users do not save on servers in Russia. In late September, Russia threatened Facebook with a fine for not removing illegal content. In the future, Facebook could have to dig deeper into its pockets in Russia if illegal content is not blocked or removed, it said. In mid-September, under pressure from Moscow, Youtube blocked a protest election video by opponents of the Kremlin.
Obviously the Russian government is pulling the reins to get better control of social media and the web in Russia with higher penalties. In mid-March, Roskomnadzor had also started to slow down the loading speed for access to the short message service Twitter nationwide. The throttling was later ended for landline connections, but it should be used on mobile devices according to Reuters remain in place until all illegal content is removed.