A Moscow court on Friday slapped Google with a nearly US$100 million fine and also fined Facebook Inc’s parent company Meta Platforms Inc US$27 million over their failure to delete content banned by local law, as Russia seeks to step up pressure on technology giants.
The Tagansky District Court ruled that Google repeatedly neglected to remove the banned content, and ordered the company to pay an administrative fine of 7.2 billion rubles (US$97.7 million).
Google said that it would study the court documents before deciding on what its next step might be.
Later on Friday, the court also slapped a fine of nearly 2 billion rubles on Meta for failure to remove banned content.
Russian courts had this year imposed smaller fines on Google, Facebook and Twitter Inc, and Friday’s rulings were the first time that the size of the fines were calculated based on revenue.
Russian state communications watchdog Roskomnadzor said that Google and Meta were specifically accused of contravening a ban on distributing content that promotes extremist ideology, insults religious beliefs and encourages dangerous behavior by minors, among other things.
The agency said that Facebook and Instagram have failed to remove 2,000 items, despite the courts’ requests to do so, while Google has failed to delete 2,600 such items.
The firm might face further fines for failure to delete the banned content, the agency added.
Russian authorities have steadily ramped up pressure on social media, accusing them of failing to purge content related to drug abuse, weapons and explosives, and extremist views.
Earlier this year, authorities criticized tech companies for not deleting announcements about unsanctioned protests in support of imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.
Russian authorities have also demanded that foreign tech giants store the personal data of Russian citizens on servers in Russia, threatening them with fines or possible bans if they fail to comply.
Russian lawmaker Alexander Khinshtein, chairman of the Committee on Information Policy, Information Technologies and Communications in the State Duma, or lower house of the Russian Federal Assembly, said the massive fines should send a clear message to all tech giants.
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