A court in Moscow has fined Google $98 million for its failure to delete content the Russian government deems illegal. This is the first of its kind in Russia in terms of revenue.
Russia has steadily mounted pressure on big tech companies this year to suppress the internet. Several groups have decried the pressure; describing the moves as a way of threatening individuals and corporate freedom.
Google said its action will be determined after studying the court ruling. The ruling did not specify any amount, but Reuters reports that it “equates to just over 8%.”
Russia ordered companies including Google and Facebook to remove content promoting drug abuse and dangerous pastimes. Moscow also ordered companies to delete information about homemade weapons and explosives, as well as ones by groups it designates as terrorist or extremist.
Google had previously paid over $434,000 in fine in 2020 over content violation, is at loggerheads with Russia over several unresolved issues. Among other demands, Russia demands that 13 foreign companies including Google and Meta, have an official presence on Russian territory by the start of 2022. Failure to comply with this could lead to outright ban or possible restrictions.
In June, a court in Russia fined Telegram and Facebook over failure to remove banned content from their platform. Facebook has been fined $234.913, while Telegram will pay $138,042, said the court based in the Russian capital Moscow.
The fine came on the heels of a recent fine where Facebook was ordered to pay $359,635 for not taking down posts deemed “illegal” by the Russian authorities.
Social media platforms have been feeling the pressure from Russia’s state media watchdog Roskomnadzor in recent times. Most affected are foreign-owned social media companies like Facebook and Twitter.
Social media companies like Facebook and Twitter are now obliged to open offices in Russia according to a new law. The law, which was signed by President Vladimir Putin is Russia’s latest move to gain the upper hand over social media companies.
In 2017, the Russian authorities closed LinkedIn for failing to comply with its laws on localizing its data within the country. The block came into effect after a court in Russia found LinkedIn guilty of breaching a law that requires holding Russian citizens’ data to store it on servers within the country.
The law asking Twitter and other Internet companies to comply and localize users’ personal data within Russia was passed in 2015. This has led to disagreements with some internet companies, including LinkedIn.