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Russia prepares $240m illegal content fine for Google

By News Desk

Russia has disclosed that the country would this month seek to fine U.S. tech giant, Google, a percentage of its annual Russian turnover for repeatedly failing to delete content deemed illegal.

As gathered, the move would go down in history as Moscow’s strongest effort yet to rein in foreign tech firms which goes against the country’s rule aimed at protecting the citizens, among others.

Communications regulator, Roskomnadzor, said that Google had failed to pay 32.5 million roubles ($458,100) in penalties levied so far this year and that it would now seek a fine of 5-20% of Google’s Russian turnover, which could reach as much as $240 million, a significant increase.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Russia has ramped up pressure on foreign tech companies as it seeks to assert greater control over the internet in the country, slowing down the speed of Twitter (TWTR.N) since March and routinely fining others for content violations.

Opposition activists have accused Alphabet’s (GOOGL.O) Google and Apple (AAPL.O) of caving to Kremlin pressure after they removed an antigovernmental tactical voting app from their stores.

Roskomnadzor earlier in October said that it would ask a court to impose a turnover fine on social media firm Facebook(FB.O), citing legislation signed by President Vladimir Putin in December 2020.

“A similar case will be put together in October against Google,” Roskomnadzor said in emailed comments to journalists on Tuesday, noting that the company also owned video-hosting site YouTube.

The SPARK business database showed that Google’s turnover in Russia in 2020 was 85.5 billion roubles. A 5-20% fine would amount to between 4.3 and 17.1 billion roubles.

Google is currently fighting a court ruling demanding it unblock the YouTube account of a sanctioned Russian businessman or face a compounding fine on its overall turnover that would double every week and force Google out of business within months if paid.

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