Russian court fines Google and Facebook over illegal content breach

A Russian court has fined 7.2 billion rubles (US$98 million) and Meta Platforms Inc., 2 billion rubles (US$27.15 million) for not removing prohibited content.

Reported by Bloomberg on Friday (12/24/2021), this is the largest of the penalties involving the tech giant. The federal communications watchdog said in a statement that the fine was based on a percentage of the company’s annual revenue in .

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Google and Meta face bigger fines if they don’t remove the material, he said.

Meanwhile, in an official statement, Google said it was studying the decision to determine next steps. As for Meta, previously has not responded to this.

In September, Russia’s federal communications watchdog said companies that did not remove already banned content could be fined 5-20 percent of their annual local revenue.

However, this fine is not significant. Google earned revenue in Russia about 85 billion rubles (US$1.15 billion) in 2020, according to the Spark-Interfax database.

“For some reason, the company complied with the decisions of the American and European courts without hesitation. If the fine does not make Google aware, I am afraid that unpleasant actions will be taken,” said the ruling party representative in the lower house of parliament who sits on the Information Policy committee, Anton Gorelkin.

It should be noted, Russia is starting a confrontation with foreign social media and internet companies this year on the grounds of safeguarding its digital sovereignty.

Russia is getting bolder to tackle tech companies, despite failing to block Telegram a few years ago.

Regulators have fined and prevented content in an effort to force companies, including Google and Twitter Inc., to remove posts that encourage unauthorized protests and other material deemed illegal.

The Russian government is also pressuring digital companies to comply with strict regulations in limiting data storage.

This year, the Russian government managed to get Google and Apple Inc. to remove voting apps for protest during parliamentary elections after threatening to imprison local staff of the company.

The court ruling is Google’s latest in Russia and upends a decision in April ordering the US tech giant to restore Tsargrad’s YouTube account. This account is owned by Konstantin Malofeev who is on the US and EU financial sanctions list.

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