Russia fines Google $98 million over banned content

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In a case brought by Russia on Friday, a court fined Google 7.2 billion roubles ($98 million) for failing to delete content the country has deemed illegal on several occasions. It is not the first time that Russian courts have imposed fines on companies according to their annual revenue, even though numerous tech companies have been penalized throughout the year for not complying with its increasingly strict internet content rules. 

In addition, Meta (and its subsidiary, Instagram) were fined $27.15 million ($27 billion) by the Russian court. Google, meanwhile, reportedly failed to remove 2,600 instances of illicit content despite taking down around 2,000 banned items, according to Reuters. Those posts include calling for drug use or reckless behavior, how-tos on making explosives and weapons, and what and who the website deems as extremists and terrorists.Reuters reports that Apple has been fined $12 million for allegedly abusing its dominant position in the App Store by Russia’s antitrust regulator, Kaspersky Labs filed the complaint in 2019.Several months after Apple introduced its own Screen Time feature in iOS 12, the company filed a complaint alleging that Apple forced it to restrict the functionality of its Safe Kids app.

Or the dissemination of “gay propaganda,” apparently. Russian authorities are investigating Netflix’s alleged violation of a “gay propaganda” law after it was allegedly accused by the public commissioner for protecting families. Netflix was rated suitable for 16 and older for content with LGBTQIA+ themes, according to the commissioner. Children under 18 cannot be exposed to “propaganda on nontraditional sexual relations,” according to the country’s laws.

A decision regarding Google’s next move will be based on its review of the court documents. There will be a 10-day appeal period. Increasingly, Russian authorities have been attempting to exert greater control over their network and online services, and this ruling is the latest in that effort. On January 1, Russian authorities will demand that tech companies set up a local server for their online services. It will make for an even more confrontational situation.

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