MOSCOW, Dec 24 – A Moscow court on Friday said it was fining Google 7.2 billion roubles for what it said was a repeated failure to delete content Russia deems illegal, the first revenue-based fine of its kind in Russia. This comes after a Moscow court on Thursday said it had fined Twitter 3 million roubles for failing to delete content Russia deems illegal. It is the latest in a string of penalties against foreign technology firms, including Microsoft owned GitHub.
Russia says the moves are designed to by Russian authorities to exert tighter control over the internet, something they say threatens individual and corporate freedom.
Twitter has denied allowing its platform to be used to promote illegal behavior, Google said in an email it would study the court ruling before deciding on further steps. San Francisco-based GitHub did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.
Russia has imposed small fines on foreign technology companies throughout this year, but Friday’s penalty to Google marks the first time it has exacted a percentage of a company’s annual Russian turnover, greatly increasing the sum of the fine.
It did not specify the percentage, although calculations show it equates to just over 8%.
Russia has ordered companies to delete posts promoting drug abuse and dangerous pastimes, information about homemade weapons and explosives, as well as ones by groups it designates as extremist or terrorist. Google, which has paid more than 32 million roubles in fines over content violations this year, is at odds with Moscow on a number of issues.
Moscow has also recently demanded that 13 foreign and mostly U.S. technology companies, which include Google and Meta Platforms, be set up on Russian soil by Jan. 1 or face possible restrictions or outright bans.