Google and Facebook Fined Big in Russia for Failing to Remove Banned Content – imprisonment threats follow forcing local data storage

A Russian court fined Alphabet Inc.’s Google 7.2 billion rubles ($98 million) and Meta Platforms Inc. 2 billion rubles Friday for failing to remove banned content, the largest such penalties yet, as the authorities escalate a crackdown on foreign technology companies.

The fines were due to the companies’ repeated failure to comply with orders to take down content and based on a percentage of their annual earnings in Russia, the federal communications watchdog said in a statement. Google and Meta could face more fines if they don’t remove the material, it said.


The government is also pushing tech companies to comply with its increasingly strict laws on localizing data storage. This year, Google and Apple Inc. removed a protest-voting app from their Russian stores during parliamentary elections after the authorities threatened to imprison their local staff.

Until the latest rulings, however, fines for failure to remove content were generally insignificant. In September, Russia’s federal communications watchdog said companies that did not delete content could face fines of 5% to 20% of their annual local revenue.

Google earned revenues in Russia of about 85 billion rubles in 2020, according to the Spark-Interfax database.

“For some reason, the company fulfills decisions of American and European courts unquestioningly,” Anton Gorelkin, a ruling party deputy in the lower house of parliament who sits on the Information Policy committee, wrote on Telegram after the Google ruling was announced Friday. “If the turnover fine doesn’t bring Google to its senses, I’m afraid that some very unpleasant measures will be taken.”


Source: Google in Russia Fined $98 Million for Failing to Remove Banned Content – Bloomberg

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