Google was fined $98 million by a Russian court for failing to delete information that was deemed unlawful in the nation. According to Reuters, the 7.2 billion rouble punishment represents around 8% of Google’s sales in Russia and comes amid a larger movement in Russia to establish greater control over giant digital companies and the information individuals publish on their platforms.
According to The Verge, Google will “study the court documents when they are available and then decide on next steps.” However, a Russian official quoted by Bloomberg has threatened “very unpleasant measures” if Google does not comply with the country’s mandate to remove banned content, which includes drug promotion and posts by organizations the government considers extremist or terroristic, including those linked to opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
This isn’t the first time Google has been fined in Russia for its content control. It faces a new one that may grow in size every week until it lifts a restriction on a conservative Russian news program, despite Google’s claim that the prohibition is due to US and UK sanctions against the channel’s owner.
Companies like Twitter and Meta have also seen service slowdowns and penalties as a result of their inability to conform to Russian regulators’ rules.
Russian officials have also attempted to compel non-financial compliance from digital businesses. The country approved a rule in 2019 requiring cellphones, laptops, and televisions to be pre-loaded with software from Russian developers, which went into force earlier this year.
If a company’s website receives more than 500,000 daily visits from Russia, it will be required to build an office there. Russian officials have reportedly threatened to punish local workers of Google and Apple if they do not remove their opponents’ voting applications from their app stores.