Russia on Monday fined Google 21.1 billion rubles ($374 million) for repeatedly failing to “remove prohibited information” – content related to the invasion of the country and the war that has taken place. followed in Ukraine. The country’s telecommunications watchdog, Roskomnadzor, cited a court order and said Google (specifically YouTube) had failed to remove content discrediting “the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation”.
The watchdog’s press release also accused Google of failing to remove “materials promoting extremism and terrorism” on its platforms. He noted that the fine was calculated on the basis of the company’s annual turnover in Russia, but he did not specify a percentage.
Last month, Russia’s telecommunications watchdog warned the company that it could face a fine of 5-10% of its revenue for repeated violations of local restricted content laws. According to data from the Interfax news agency’s Spark database of Russian companies, Google’s revenue for 2021 was 134.3 billion rubles ($2.3 billion). The new fine would therefore be around 15% of the company’s annual turnover.
Last December, Russia fined Google its first revenue-based fine of 7.2 billion rubles ($98 million) in the country for failing to remove illegal content in accordance with the country’s laws.
After Russia began attacking Ukraine in February, Google restricted its services with measures such as stopping Play Store and YouTube billing for Russian users, restricting Google News, suspending its ad sales in the country and the blocking of state-backed media YouTube channels. Other big tech giants like Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Cisco and Dell have also decided to reduce or cease their business activities in Russia.
Notably, Google’s Russian subsidiary filed for bankruptcy last month after local regulators froze its bank accounts in May. The company said it moved many of its employees out of Moscow after the fighting started.
Although the country has not banned YouTube or Google services like Facebook and Instagram, it has issued repeated warnings to the search giant for several reasons, including “anti-Russian” ads and blocking the YouTube channel state-sponsored media.
Russia waged a major propaganda war to bolster its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Russia’s actions have drawn strong rebukes both outside and inside the country. So, in an effort to suppress information about the attack that is critical of its actions, Russia controlled the flow of information as much as it could. He passed a law in March that threatened members of the media with up to 15 years in prison for reporting what he considered “fake news” about his invasion of Ukraine. In response, several news outlets and social media companies like TikTok shut down their operations or limited their services in the country.
Google’s trials and tribulations in Russia come at a time when it faces other problems in Europe, albeit for very different reasons. In Denmark, authorities have banned Chromebooks and Google Workspace in schools for breaching data protection. In France, Italy and Austria, regulators are currently investigating the data protection practices of Google Analytics.
We contacted Google for comment.