Russian court fines Google 6 million rbls for failing to delete banned content

FILE PHOTO: A 3D printed Google logo is seen in this illustration taken
FILE PHOTO: A 3D printed Google logo is seen in this illustration taken April 12, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

May 25, 2021

MOSCOW (Reuters) -A Russian court on Tuesday said it had handed U.S. technology giant Google three separate fines totalling 6 million roubles ($81,810) over a failure to delete content that Moscow deems illegal.

The fines come amid a wider spat between Moscow and Google. Russia’s communications watchdog on Monday warned that Moscow could eventually slow down the company’s traffic in the country if it failed to delete prohibited content.

Russia has already placed a punitive slowdown on U.S. social network Twitter for not deleting banned content, part of a push by Moscow to rein in Western tech giants and beef up what it calls its internet “sovereignty”.

Google was found guilty of administrative offences, Moscow’s Tagansky District court said in a statement, and was ordered to pay 2 million roubles for each offence.

Google Russia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The charges concern posts that Russia says encouraged minors to join unsanctioned protests in January, when people across Russia took to the streets to support Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny after he was detained.

Later on Tuesday, the court will also consider eight reports concerning Facebook, which could lead to a total fine of up to 32 million roubles, the Interfax news agency said.

In April, a court issued three separate fines against Twitter totalling 8.9 million roubles, over accusations it had failed to delete banned content. TikTok has also been fined for similar offences this year.

($1 = 73.3400 roubles)

(Reporting by Marina Bobrova, Polina Devitt and Alexander Marrow; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Bernadette Baum)