Russia fines Google for not deleting banned content

FILE PHOTO: Google app is seen on a smartphone in this illustration
FILE PHOTO: Google app is seen on a smartphone in this illustration taken, July 13, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

August 17, 2021

MOSCOW (Reuters) -A Moscow court on Tuesday fined Alphabet Inc’s Google a total of 14 million roubles ($190,398) for violating Russian rules on banned content, the penalty coming amid a wider stand-off between Russia and Big Tech companies.

Russia has routinely fined social media giants for failing to remove prohibited content and is seeking to compel foreign technology companies to open offices in the country.

Moscow’s Tagansky District Court said Google had been handed five administrative fines of 4 million roubles, 1.5 million roubles, 5 million roubles, 1.5 million roubles and 2 million roubles respectively.

A spokesperson for Google confirmed the first two fines, but gave no additional comment.

Russia has hit Google with a series of small fines in the past year, for reasons ranging from not deleting content Moscow deems illegal to failing to localise user data.

Google is also the subject of a Moscow court order obliging it to unblock the YouTube account of Tsargrad TV, a Christian Orthodox channel owned by Konstantin Malofeev, who is under U.S. and EU financial sanctions.

An appeal hearing is scheduled for Sept. 20. Tsargrad TV on Monday said it had abandoned talks with Google, which owns YouTube, and accused the U.S. company of dragging its feet in negotiations.

($1 = 73.5300 roubles)

(Reporting by Alexander MarrowAdditional reporting by Polina Devitt and Maria VasilyevaEditing by David Goodman and Susan Fenton)