A Moscow court on Thursday said it had fined Google 2 million roubles ($26,989) over failure to remove banned content. This comes amid tensions and locked horns between the Russian government and the U.S. tech giant. The fine was in addition to penalties totalling 14 million roubles on Tuesday for the same offense.
The Russian government has frequently fined social media giants over violation of its rules on banned content and is seeking to compel foreign technology companies to establish offices in the country.
In the past year, Google has been a victim of a series of blows resulting in penalties, thrown at by Russia for reasons ranging from not removing content which it deems illegal, to failing to localize user data.
In May, Google and Facebook were fined by Moscow’s Tagansky District Court for the same reason. Facebook was fined 26 million roubles in total ($353,000), while Google was fined 6 million roubles ($82,000) for three different offenses. In separate statements, the Russian court said that both companies were guilty of administrative offenses. Facebook’s case involved eight reports over content posted on Facebook that Russia wanted Facebook to take down. According to the Russian authorities, the post encouraged minors to join unsanctioned protests in January, when people across the country took to the streets to support Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny after he was detained. At the time, Google’s Russian branch announced that it had appealed against a Moscow court order obliging it to unblock the YouTube account of a Christian Orthodox news channel owned by Konstantin Malofeev, a Russian businessman who is under U.S. and EU financial sanctions.
Google and Facebook happen to not be the only platforms to be in the hairs of the Russian government over failure to delete content. In April, Twitter was accused of failing to delete banned content. Three separate fines were issued against Twitter which amounted to 8.9 million roubles ($121,000). video-sharing-focused social networking service, TikTok, has also been fined for similar offenses this year.
Supposedly, Google has been threatened by Russia’s communication watchdog that it will be eventually slowed down in the country if it continues to violate Russia’s rules on banned content.
Russia’s fierce actions of penalizing tech giants, such as Google, have been described as part of a push by Moscow to gain internet sovereignty over the world’s internet sovereigns.