Google has been fined 21.1 billion roubles ($373 million; £301 million) by Russia for failing to censor access to “prohibited” materials related to the conflict in Ukraine and other topics. The content, according to Roskomnadzor, the nation’s communications watchdog, included “false” reports that denigrated Russia’s military and posts encouraging protests.
It referred to the US IT giant as a “systematic” lawbreaker. Google however did not respond right away. A local unit of the corporation declared bankruptcy last month. The action was taken when the company’s local bank account was seized by Russian authorities, which allowed them to recover 7.2 billion roubles that the company had been forced to pay for related reasons last year. Russia has increased pressure on tech companies in recent years, claiming that they are interfering in domestic issues and improperly regulating their material.
After the February invasion of Ukraine, efforts to censor social media and other news websites have intensified. Additionally, the government enacted a law that carries a 15-year prison sentence for anyone found spreading “false” information about the conflict. Google, a subsidiary of Alphabet, stopped providing its paid services in Russia in March. Along with moving workers, it has tightened limitations on news accounts supported by Russia. However, unlike some other social media platforms like Facebook, it has not been totally blocked in Russia, since the technology of the corporation is used in a large number of smartphones.
The decision to keep providing search, maps, and YouTube, according to Alphabet, gave Russians access to “global information and opinions.”
According to state media, the fine issued on Monday is the largest fine ever imposed on a tech corporation in Russia and was calculated as a percentage of the company’s local turnover.