Russia Fines Google US$360m Over Failure To Delete Content On Russia’s Military Activities In Ukraine content

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A MOSCOW court has fined Google 21 billion roubles (S$502.3 million) for failing to remove content concerning Russia’s “military intervention” in Ukraine, the nation’s telecommunications regulator said Monday (Jul 18).

Roskomnadzor said the Google-owned video platform YouTube had failed to block “false information” on the offensive in Ukraine, “extremist and terrorist propaganda” and content “calling on minors to participate in unauthorised demonstrations”.

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The regulator said that as this was a repeat conviction for Google, the fine was based on its annual revenue in Russia.

The Russian authorities have been dialling up their pressure on Western social media firms in recent years with repeated fines and threats in a bid to remove criticism from the Internet, one of the last bastions of free speech in Russia.

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Like most of its Western rivals, Google recently quit the Russian market to denounce Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Vladimir Zykov, a specialist cited by Russian news agency Ria-Novosti noted that the fine is the largest imposed on a Western tech firm by a Russian court.

The Russian authorities can impose on Google “as many fines as they wish, they won’t receive the money” as the firm has pulled out of the country, he added.

Google had no immediate comment concerning the fine.

Roskomnadzor branded the activities of Google and YouTube with the “terrorist” label in March, opening up the possibility they would be blocked in Russia, as have Twitter, Instagram and many independent media outlets following the start of the war in Ukraine.

The Russian authorities have increased the legal penalties for speaking out against the conflict. Those found guilty of spreading “false information” about the Russian military face up to 15 years in jail. Several people have already been jailed on such charges.

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