Russia fines Google $373 million for allegedly promoting fake news

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Russia has fined Alphabet Inc.’s Google $373 million for allegedly promoting fake news on its platform.

The development is in line with Russia’s efforts to keep mainstream media in check since the emergence of its war with Ukraine.

Google was fined 21.1 billion rubles ($373 million) last week by a Moscow court over its failure to remove content considered to be illegal by Russia.

READ: Google, YouTube partner IFCN to support global fact-checking initiatives with $13.2m grant

Russia’s communications regulator, Roskomnadzor said the content includes “fake news” about the conflict in Ukraine.

The regulator said the Tagansky District Court fined Google 21.1 billion rubles for repeatedly failing to restrict access promptly to banned materials.

Tekedia reports that Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube has been a particular target of the state’s ire but was yet to be blocked unlike Twitter and Meta Platforms’ Facebook and Instagram.

The fine placed on Google was calculated as a share of Google’s annual turnover in Russia.

It had been handed a similar 7.2-billion-ruble penalty late last year.

Google’s Russian unit’s bank account has been seized, which has prompted the subsidiary to file for bankruptcy, making it impossible to pay staff and vendors.

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Google, however, did not respond to a request for comment.

The Deputy Head of the Parliamentary Committee on Information Policy, Anton Gorelkin, said Google was showing a demonstrative disregard for Russian law.

He said, “It is not hard to predict what this attitude will lead to: Google risks losing the Russian market altogether.”

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