- The Washington Times - Friday, December 24, 2021

A Russian court on Friday slapped the parent companies of Google and Facebook with record-high fines for failing to take down content that the Kremlin deemed illegal.

Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google, was ordered to shell out nearly $100 million. It was the highest penalty levied to date by Moscow’s internet regulator in an ongoing crackdown on Western tech companies.

Meta, which is the new corporate name for Facebook, was fined close to $27 million by the Russian court.

Roskomnadzor, the Kremlin’s internet watchdog, said Facebook and Instagram failed to remove more than 2,000 posts that incite “religious discord,” perpetuate “unreliable socially significant information,” propagandize “an indifferent attitude towards the life and health of minors,” or promote extremism.

The agency found more than 2,600 instances of similar violations in data housed by Google.

Google told Reuters that it reviewing the court’s ruling and will determine its next steps. Meta did not respond to a request for comment.
The tech giants could face additional fines should they fail to comply with orders to takedown disputed content.

The fines, which have increased in severity over the past year, are part of a growing feud between Russia and foreign dot coms over content from protests and other material that have been unauthorized in the country.

Moscow has also called on the tech giants to remove apps that it says violate Russia’s data storage laws.

• Joseph Clark can be reached at jclark@washingtontimes.com.

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