Google fined RUB 7.2 billion from a Russian court for failing to delete illegal content

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A Moscow court said it fined Google 7.2 billion rubles (around 735 billion rupees) for repeatedly failing to delete content Russia considers illegal, the first sales-based fine of its kind in Russia.

Moscow this year increased pressure on Big Tech in a campaign that critics characterize as an attempt by the Russian authorities to control the Internet more, which they believe threatens individual and corporate freedom.

Google said in an email it would review the court ruling before deciding on further action.

Russia has imposed small fines on foreign tech companies throughout the year, but Friday’s penalty confiscates a percentage of a company’s annual Russian sales for the first time, greatly increasing the sum of the fines.

The percentage has not been given, although Reuters calculations show it to be just over 8 percent.

Russia has ordered companies to delete posts promoting substance abuse and dangerous pastimes, information about homemade weapons and explosives, and posts from groups it describes as extremist or terrorist.

Google, which paid more than 32 million rubles (roughly Rs.3 billion) in fines for content violations this year, is at odds with Moscow on a number of points.

Russia has called for access to the German-language channels of the state-supported broadcaster RT to be restored.

Last week, a sanctioned Russian businessman claimed victory over Google in a lawsuit that could punish the tech giant with another heavy fine.

Moscow also demanded that by January 1, 13 foreign and mostly US technology companies, including Google and Meta-Platforms, set up on Russian soil or face potential restrictions or outright bans.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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