Russia fines Google $98 million for ‘banned content’

A Russian court on Friday fined Google 7.2 billion rubles ($98 million) for what it believes are repeated failures by the company to remove content the country deems illegal. While Russia has tagged countless tech companies with fines throughout the year for failing to follow increasingly restrictive internet content rules, Friday’s verdict marks the first time the court has imposed fines based on a company’s annual revenue.

In addition, the Russian court fined Meta (and its subsidiary Instagram) of 2 billion rubles ($27.15 million) for similar violations. Per Reuters, Meta is accused of failing to remove about 2,000 banned items, while Google reportedly failed to remove 2,600 pieces of illegal content. These include posts promoting drug use or dangerous behavior, instructions on how to make improvised weapons and explosives, as well as anything about what and who it designates as extremists or terrorists. Or apparently the spread of ‘gay propaganda’.

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

This ruling is just Moscow’s latest attempt to exert more control over not just the national network, but the Internet as a whole and will set an even bigger confrontation on Jan. 1, when Russian authorities have demanded that tech companies set up local servers for their online services.

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