Russia fines Google $98 million over ‘banned content’

A Russian court levied a 7.2 billion rouble ($98 million) fine against Google on Friday for what it claims are repeated failures by the company to delete content the country has deemed illegal. Though Russia has tagged numerous tech companies throughout the year with fines for not following its increasingly restrictive internet content rules, Friday’s judgement marks the first time that the court has imposed fines based on a company’s annual revenue. 

Additionally, the Russian court fined Meta (and its subsidiary, Instagram) 2 billion roubles ($27.15 million) for similar offenses. Per Reuters, Meta is accused of failing to remove around 2,000 banned items while Google had reportedly failed to take down 2,600 bits of illicit content. Those include posts promoting drug use or dangerous behaviors, instructions for making improvised weapons and explosives, as well as anything regarding what and who it designates as extremists or terrorists. Or the spreading of “gay propaganda,” apparently.

Google has announced it will review the court documents before deciding how to proceed. The company has 10 days to file an appeal.

This ruling is only the latest in Moscow’s attempts to exert greater degrees of control over not just its national network but the internet as a whole and sets up an even larger confrontation come January 1st, when Russian authorities have demanded tech companies set up local servers for their online services.

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