Russian court fines Google nearly $100M over content

Google said it would study the court documents and then decide on its next steps.

Moscow: A Moscow court fined Google nearly 100 million Friday over its failure to delete content banned by local law, a penalty that reflects Russian efforts to step up pressure on big technology companies.

The Tagansky District Court ruled that Google repeatedly neglected to remove the banned content, and ordered the company to pay an administrative fine of about 7.2 billion rubles (about 98.4 million).

Russian authorities have steadily ramped up pressure on social media platforms, accusing them of failing to purge content related to drug abuse, weapons and explosives. Earlier this year, the authorities criticized tech companies for not deleting announcements about unsanctioned protests in support of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

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Russian courts previously imposed smaller fines on Google, Facebook and Twitter this year. The Moscow court’s Friday ruling marked the first time the size of the fine was calculated based on revenue.

Russian authorities also have demanded that foreign tech giants store the personal data of Russian citizens on servers in Russia, threatening them with fines or possible bans if they fail to comply.

The fine will not affect Google’s operations in Russia, but it will send a message to other IT giants, Russia’s State Duma deputy Alexander Khinshtein said in remarks quoted by Russian news agencies.

Khinshtein oversees the Duma’s committee on information policy, information technology and communications.

The imposition of this fine does not in any way interfere with the further work of Google, although I must remind you that the legislation provides for other forms of response and so-called methods of coercion, which include slowing down traffic and complete blocking in Russia, Khinshtein said.

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