Russia fines Google $ 98 million for failing to remove “banned” content

A Moscow court reported on Friday that it was going to impose a fine of 7.2 billion rubles (about $ 98 million) on Google, for the alleged repeated breach of the obligation to remove content that Russia considers illegal, the first fine of its kind in the country that is based on income.

Moscow has increased the pressure on big tech companies this year in a campaign that, according to critics of the Kremlin, constitutes an attempt by the Russian authorities to exercise stricter control over the internet, which, in their view, poses a threat to individual and corporate freedom.

Google, property of AlphabetHe said in an email that he would study the court’s ruling before deciding what action to take.

Russia has imposed small fines on foreign tech companies throughout the year, but Friday’s sanction marks the first time it has imposed a percentage of a company’s annual turnover in Russia, greatly increasing the amount of the fine.

The percentage was not specified, although Reuters calculations show it equates to just over 8 percent.

Russia has ordered companies to remove the posts that encourage drug use and dangerous behaviors, as well as information on homemade weapons and explosives, in addition to those carried out by groups that it describes as extremists or terrorists.

Google, which has paid more than 32 million rubles in fines for content violations this year, disagrees with Moscow on several issues. Russia has demanded that it restore access to the German channels of the state channel RT.

Moscow has also demanded that 13 foreign and mostly American tech companies, including Google Y Meta Platforms, settle on Russian soil before January 1, or face possible restrictions or outright bans.

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