A Moscow court on Friday fined Google with $98m over failure to delete content banned by local law. The court ruled that Google repeatedly neglected to remove the banned content. This is the first time in Russia that a technology giant has been hit with a fine based on their annual turnover. Facebook’s parent company Meta was fined at the same time and with the same motivation $27 million. Earlier this week, Twitter was also handed a 3m rouble fine for similar charges. Russian state communications watchdog Roskomnadzor said Google and Meta were specifically accused of violating the ban on distributing content that promotes extremist ideology, insults religious beliefs and encourages dangerous behavior by minors. It’s about 2,600 of such items and a warning that more revenue-based fines could apply was issued. Some of them were related to the jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.
Alexander Khinshtein, head of the committee on information policies in the lower house of Russian parliament warned that Russian law envisages other forms of punishment for failure to comply with court orders. This could be even complete blocking. Websites like LinkedIn and Dailymotion have already been blocked for refusing to co-operate with authorities. Google said it would study the court ruling on Friday before deciding on further steps. Another demand of Moscow was that 13 foreign and mostly US technology companies, which include Google and Meta Platforms, be set up on Russian soil by January 1 to avoid possible restrictions.