Russia hits tech giants Google and Meta with massive fines

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By Euronews  with AP
Google was fined by a Russian court
Google was fined by a Russian court   -   Copyright  Alastair Grant/AP

Russia has hit tech giants Google and Meta with huge fines over their failure to delete content banned by local law.

It fined Google nearly $100 million (€88.4 million) and Facebook’s parent company Meta $27 million (€23.9 million) as it stepped up pressure on the internet companies.

The Tagansky District Court in Moscow ruled that Google repeatedly neglected to remove the banned content.

Google said it would study the court documents before deciding on its next steps.

Later on Friday, the court also slapped a $27.2 million administrative fine on Meta for failure to remove banned content.

Russian authorities have steadily ramped up pressure on social media platforms, accusing them of failing to purge content related to drug abuse, weapons and explosives.

Earlier this year, authorities criticised tech companies for not deleting announcements about unsanctioned protests in support of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

Russian courts previously imposed smaller fines on Google, Facebook and Twitter this year. The Moscow court's Friday rulings marked the first time the size of the fine was calculated based on revenue.

Russian authorities also have demanded that foreign tech giants store the personal data of Russian citizens on servers in Russia, threatening them with fines or possible bans if they fail to comply.

Alexander Khinshtein, head of the committee on information policies in the lower house of Russian parliament, said the massive fine should send a clear message to all IT giants.

He added that Russian law envisages other forms of punishment for failure to comply with court orders, including slowing down traffic and complete blocking.