Russia announces $360 million fine to Google over Ukraine content

Russia announces $360 million fine to Google over Ukraine content

According to the law, the company was sanctioned based on “its annual turnover” in Russia.

A Moscow court on Monday fined the American giant Google 21 billion rubles (about US$360 million) for not removing content denouncing its offensive in UkraineRussian telecommunications agency Roskomnadzor reported.

The agency said the Google-owned video platform YouTube had not blocked “false information” about the Ukraine offensive, or content that “propagates extremism and terrorism” or “invites minors to participate in unauthorized demonstrations.”

This is a recurring conviction. Under the law, the company was sanctioned based on “its annual turnover” in Russia, Roskomnadzor noted.

In recent years, Russian authorities have increased pressure on major Western digital companies, with systematic fines and threats, in hopes of silencing critics on the Internet, one of Russia’s free speech spaces.

However, like most western tech giants, Google abandoned the Russian market to denounce the military offensive in Ukraine.

Cited by the Ria-Novosti news agency, an expert in the sector, Vladimir Zykov, indicated that this was the highest fine ever imposed on a high-tech company in Russia.

For Zykov, Russian authorities can impose on Google “as many fines as they want, they will not receive any money” because the American company has ceased its activities in Russia and no longer makes a profit there. At the moment, Google has not reacted to this historic fine.

Roskomnadzor accused Google and YouTube of “terrorist” activities in March, announcing a possible blocking of the site in Russia, as Twitter, Instagram and many independent media outlets have done since the Ukraine attack.

Russian authorities have heavily reinforced the legal arsenal to control communication about the military operation, threatening those who spread “false information” about the Russian army with sentences of up to 15 years in prison. Currently, several people are in prison on these charges.

Source: AFP

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