Thu. Jan 20th, 2022

A Russian court has fined Google $98 million for not removing content considered illegal in the country. The fine of 7.2 billion rubles is about eight percent of Google’s turnover in Russia. Reuters reports, and comes amid broader pressure within the country to exert more control over major tech companies and the content people publish on their platforms.

Google tells The edge it will “study the court documents when they become available and then decide on the next steps.” However, a Russian official quoted by Bloomberg Threatened with “very unpleasant measures” if Google fails to comply with the country’s mandate to remove banned content, including drug advertisements and messages from organizations the government believes are extremist or terrorist, including organizations associated with opposition leader Alexei Navalny .

This is not Google’s first fine in Russia for moderating content. It faces another that could double in size each week unless it lifts its ban on a conservative Russian news channel, though Google says the ban is due to US and UK sanctions against the channel’s owner. Companies such as Twitter and Meta have also faced delays in their services and fines based on their failure to moderate to Russian regulators’ standards.

Russian regulators have also tried non-financial ways to pressure tech companies to comply. In 2019, the country passed a law requiring smartphones, computers and TVs to come with pre-installed software from Russian developers, which came into effect earlier this year. Companies will also have to open offices in Russia if they have websites with more than 500,000 daily visitors from the country. Russian officials have also leaned on Google and Apple to remove political opponents’ voting apps from their app stores by threatening to sue the companies’ local employees.

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