Russia announced that this month it will seek to fine US tech giant Google for part of the company’s annual turnover in the country for repeatedly failing to delete content deemed illegal.This is Moscow’s strongest move so far to impose itself on foreign tech companies.
Communications regulatory body Roskomnadzor said Google had not paid 32.5 million rubles in fines that had been imposed on it since the beginning of the year and that it will now seek a fine of 5-20% of Google’s turnover, which can reach up to 240 million dollars, in a significant increase in this amount.
Russia has stepped up pressure on foreign tech companies as it seeks to gain more control over the internet in the country, slowing Twitter’s speed since March while systematically fined others for content violations. Opposition activists have accused Alphabet’s Google and Apple of bowing to Kremlin pressure as they removed “smart” voting apps from their online platforms aimed at supporting anti-government candidates.
Roskomnadzor said earlier in October that he would ask a court to fine the Facebook’s turnover citing legislation signed by President Vladimir Putin in December 2020. “There will be a similar case in October against Google,” Roskomnadzor said in a statement to Reuters today, noting that the company also owns the video-sharing site YouTube.
According to the SPARK business database, Google’s turnover in Russia in 2020 was 85.5 billion rubles. A fine of 5-20% would be between 4.3 billion and 171 billion rubles.