Google faces a fine of nearly $100 million in Russia
Google faces a fine of nearly $100 million in Russia

A Russian court has fined Google $98 million for failing to remove illegal content in the country. This is the first time in Russia.

Moscow has increased its pressure on big tech companies this year. Critics describe it as an attempt by the Russian authorities to tighten control over the Internet that threatens the freedoms of individuals and companies.

The fine represents about 8% of the company's sales in Russia. The fine comes when the state launches a broader campaign to tighten control over the content that big tech companies and people post on their platforms.

Google has announced that it will study the court documents as soon as they are available and then decide what to do next. However, a Russian official threatened by Bloomberg to take very unpleasant measures if the company failed to comply with government requests to remove the banned content.

The content includes anti-drug propaganda and leaflets by organizations the government designates as extremist or terrorist. Including those associated with opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Google fined for failing to remove banned content

This is not the first time the company has been fined in Russia for reviewing content. The company faces another fine that could double each week unless it revokes a ban on conservative Russian news channels. However, the company said the ban was due to the sanctions imposed by the US and UK on the owner of the channel.

Companies like Twitter and Meta have also faced slowdowns and fines for failing to comply with the standards of Russian regulators.

Russian regulators are also trying to put tech companies under pressure in non-financial ways. In 2019, the state passed a law providing for pre-installation of software from Russian developers on smartphones, computers and TVs.

These laws went into effect earlier this year. If the company operates a website with more than 500,000 visitors from this country per day, then it must also open an office in Russia.

Russian officials are also relying on Google and Apple to remove political opponents' voting apps from the App Store. There are threats to sue local employees.

On the same day, the court imposed a fine of $27.15 million on Meta Corporation for the same reason. Russia's communications organization Roskomnadzor said Facebook and Instagram had not removed content that violated Russian law.

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