Russia Slaps Google with $370 Million Fine for Repeated Content Violations
Such content included 'fake news' about the conflict in Ukraine
Alphabet’s Google was fined 21.1 billion rubles ($373 million) by a Moscow court due to repeated failure to remove content Russia deems illegal.
Such content included “fake news” about the conflict in Ukraine, Russia’s communications regulator said.
Russia has long objected to foreign tech platforms’ distribution of content that falls foul of its restrictions.
However, a dispute has erupted into a full-on battle since Moscow assembled its armed forces before sending them into Ukraine in February.
Alphabet’s YouTube has also been a target of the state’s ire but, unlike Twitter and Meta Platforms’ Facebook and Instagram, it hasn't been blocked.
The regulator, Roskomnadzor, said the Tagansky District Court had fined Google 21.1 billion rubles for repeatedly failing to restrict access promptly to banned materials, and singled out YouTube for particular criticism.
It accused YouTube of failing to delete “fakes about the course of the special military operation in Ukraine, discrediting the armed forces of the Russian Federation.”
It added that YouTube was permitting content promoting extremist views and calls for children to participate in unauthorized protests.
The fine was calculated as a share of Google’s annual turnover in Russia.
It had been handed a similar 7.2 billion ruble penalty late last year.
Google’s Russian unit’s bank account has been seized, prompting the subsidiary to file for bankruptcy and making it impossible to pay staff and vendors.
Russia says it is conducting a “special military operation” in Ukraine to defuse a threat to its security and protect Russian speakers from persecution.
Ukraine dismisses such allegations as baseless pretexts for an illegal land grab.
Deputy head of the parliamentary committee on information policy, Anton Gorelkin, said Google was showing a demonstrative disregard for Russian law.
“It is not hard to predict what this attitude will lead to: Google risks losing the Russian market altogether,” he wrote on Telegram. ($1 = 56.4650 roubles)
Last week, Russia fined U.S. tech giant Apple and Zoom Video Communications for allegedly refusing to store the data of Russian citizens on Russian territory.
Moscow has clashed with Big Tech over content, censorship, data, and local representation in a simmering dispute that has erupted into a full-on battle since Russia sent its armed forces into Ukraine on Feb. 24.
Apple was fined 2 million roubles ($34,000), the court in Moscow’s Tagansky district said.
Meanwhile, Zoom and Ookla, which runs the internet performance tool Speedtest, were fined 1 million roubles each.