Russia said on Tuesday it would fine U.S. tech giant, Google, a percentage of its annual Russian turnover for repeatedly failing to delete content deemed illegal.
This is Moscow’s strongest effort yet to rein in foreign tech firms.
The communications regulator, Roskomnadzor, said Google had failed to pay 32.5 million roubles ($458,100) in penalties levied so far this year and that it would now seek a fine of between five and 20 per cent of Google’s Russian turnover.
The turnover could reach as much as $240 million, a significant increase.
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Russia has ramped up pressure on foreign tech companies as it seeks to assert greater control over the internet in the country.
The action is slowing down the speed of Twitter since March and routinely fining others for content violations.
Opposition activists have accused Alphabet’s Google and Apple of caving to Kremlin pressure after they removed an anti-government tactical voting app from their stores.
Roskomnadzor, earlier in October, said it would ask a court to impose a turnover fine on social media firm, Facebook, citing legislation signed by President Vladimir Putin in December 2020.
“A similar case will be put together in October against Google,’’ Roskomnadzor said in emailed comments to Reuters on Tuesday, noting that the company also owned video-hosting site YouTube.
The SPARK business database showed that Google’s turnover in Russia in 2020 was 85.5 billion roubles.
A five to 20 per cent fine would amount to between 4.3 and 17.1 billion roubles.
Google is currently fighting a court ruling demanding it unblocks the YouTube account of a Russian businessman or faces a compounding fine on its overall turnover that would double every week and force Google out of business within months if paid. (Reuters/NAN)