Google could face another revenue fine in Russia, Russian regulator warns

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Alphabet’s Google could face a fine of 5-10% of its revenue in Russia for what the national communications regulator said on Wednesday was a repeated failure to remove banned content, including including “misleading information” on YouTube regarding events in Ukraine.

This is the second revenue-based fine that Google may face in Russia. In May, Russian bailiffs seized more than 7.7 billion rubles ($143 million or nearly Rs. 1,100 crore) from Google that he was ordered to pay late last year, marking the first time that Moscow had demanded a percentage of the company’s annual Russian turnover.

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Google, whose Russian subsidiary filed for bankruptcy last week, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“The YouTube video hosting site deliberately promotes the dissemination of misleading information about the conduct of the special military operation in Ukraine, discrediting the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation,” regulator Roskomnadzor said.

He said repeat offense could result in a fine of 5-10% of annual turnover in Russia, the amount to be determined by the court. Reuters calculated that the previous fine amounted to just over 8% of turnover.

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Russia sent tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine on February 24, saying it needed to defuse a threat to its security and protect Russian speakers from persecution, in what Moscow calls a “special military operation”.

Ukraine says it is fighting illegal land grabbing by Russia.

Roskomnadzor also said YouTube allowed content promoting extremist views and calling on children to participate in unauthorized protests.

The regulator said Google had now been fined a total of 68 million rubles, excluding turnover fines, and more than 7,000 banned items remained on YouTube.

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Russia restricted access to flagship social networks Twitter and Meta Platforms, Facebook and Instagram, but did not block Google.

A member of the State Duma said earlier that YouTube and Google had not yet “crossed the line of reasonableness”, but were involved in the information war against Russia.

Russia has imposed numerous fines on foreign technology companies in recent years for a series of violations, in what critics say is an attempt to exert greater control over the internet.

© Thomson Reuters 2022


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