Google and Meta, as a Russian court slammed them with bogus fines, amid the country’s continued pressure on technology giants.
Google was fined $100 million, while Facebook’s parent company, Meta was slammed with a $27 million fine over what the authorities termed as their failure to delete contents banned by local law.
In a ruling on Wednesday by a Tagansky District Court, it says Google continuously failed to remove the banned content, and in the process ordered the company to pay an administrative fine of about 7.2 billion rubles (about $98.4 million).
The search engine while reacting to the judgment, said it would study the court documents before deciding on the next step to take.
The following Friday, the same court fined Meta nearly 2 billion rubles ($27.2 million) for failure to remove banned content.
Earlier in the year, Russian courts had imposed smaller fines on Google, Facebook and Twitter but Friday’s rulings was the first time the size of the fine was calculated based on revenue.
Federal agency and Russian communications watchdog, Roskomnadzor accused both Google and Meta of violating the ban on distributing content that promotes extremist ideology, insults religious beliefs and encourages dangerous behavior by minors, among other things.
The agency further added that Instagram and Facebook failed to remove 2,000 items despite the courts’ requests to do so, adding that Google also failed to delete 2,600 such items, warning that they may face more revenue-based fines for failing to delete the banned content.
Authorities in Russia has continued to ramp up pressure against social media platforms, accusing them of failing to purge content related to drug abuse, weapons and explosives and extremist views.
The Russian authorities had early 2021 berated tech companies for failing to delete announcements about unsanctioned protests in support of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. They also instructed foreign tech giants to store the personal data of Russian citizens on servers in Russia, noting that in the event they fail to do so, they will either be fined or banned.
The head of the committee on information policies in the lower house of Russian parliament, Alexander Khinshtein, is of the opinion that the bogus fine would send a clear message to all IT giants, while adding that the Russian law envisages other forms of punishment for failure to comply with court orders, including slowing down traffic and complete blocking.