A Moscow court has fined tech giant Google 21.1 billion roubles ($373m) for its repeated failure to remove what it called “prohibited information” on YouTube, including what Russia considers “fake news” about its invasion of Ukraine.
Russia’s communications regulator Roskomnadzor said in a statement on Monday that the “prohibited” content included information discrediting Russia’s military and those calling on people to participate in “unauthorised mass actions”.
“For repeated non-deletion of prohibited materials, the court imposed a fine of 21,077,392,317.8 roubles, calculated on the basis of the company’s annual Russian turnover,” the communications regulator said.
The tech giant’s relationship with Moscow has remained tumultuous since the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
Days after the war started, Google stopped its Russian customers from receiving access to paid services on Play Store and YouTube.
It cited “payment system disruption” following economic sanctions placed on Russia by the US as the reason.
Then in April, the tech giant blocked the YouTube channel of the Duma – Russia’s lower house of parliament – saying in a statement that it was complying with “all applicable sanctions and trade compliance laws”.
In the same month, Russia also fined Google 11 million roubles ($137,763) first, and then another 2.3 million roubles ($41,000), for not removing “fake” information on its invasion of Ukraine – what the Kremlin continues to refer to as a “special military operation”.
Even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in December last year, a Moscow court had slapped Google with a fine of nearly $100m for not deleting content banned by local law.
Google also had to file for bankruptcy of its Russian subsidiary in May after authorities seized its bank account, making it impossible for the company to pay staff and vendors.
“Google and its information resources are regularly brought to administrative responsibility for violations of Russian legislation in terms of non-delete of prohibited information,” Roskomnadzor said in its latest statement.
Google, which can challenge the ruling, did not immediately respond to The Independent’s request for comments.
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