Moscow court fines Google for controversial material

A Moscow court penalized on Tuesday Alphabet Inc’s Google with a sum of $142,877 for violating the state’s rules on prohibited content, amidst the latest clash between Big Tech companies and the Russian state.

The Tagansky District Court fined search engine titan Google with five independent fines of approximately $190,000 for not deleting content banned by the authorities, including pornographic substance, or posts perceived as severely extremist or promoting drugs or suicide, according to state-owned news agency RIA Novosti.

A data localization law – passed in 2014 – was regulated by authorities to prohibit any breach of data localization and claims that any personal data of Russian users should be reserved inside Russia.

The Tagansky District Court in Moscow released a statement stating that Google was confronted with three administrative fines ranging between $54,440 and $68,000.

As for the Russian state, this comes as one of its harsh attempts to compel U.S. Big Tech companies to open headquarters in the country. 

Last Winter, Russian authorities escalated their harsh measures on social media firms after failing to remove posts inducing minors to join protests against the government, in unity with jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

However, Google is not the only Big Tech titan of which Russia ramped up its pressure since Facebook and Twitter both had their fair share of regulatory surveillance. 

In June, Russian authorities fined the social networking platform Facebook roughly $236,000 and messaging app Telegram approximately $139,000 for failing to remove banned content. 

Earlier this year, the state’s communications watchdog Roskomnadzor began initiating the first move on microblogging platform Twitter by threatening it with a ban over allegations of not removing content promoting suicide among children, drugs, and child pornography. 

In 2018, Google was once more under the spotlight when Russian state officials officially indicted the titan of failing to remove links to sites banned in the country by not connecting to a database of the country’s banned sources, leaving it out of compliance, according to Roskomnadzor’s statement.

As per the latest fines, Google’s spokesperson confirmed the first two fines but refused to make any further comments on the matter.