Russia Imposes Hefty Fines On Telegram And Google For Continued Availability Of Banned Content

by Bhaswati Guha Majumder - Nov 10, 2021 11:24 AM
Russia Imposes Hefty Fines On Telegram And Google For Continued Availability Of Banned ContentRussia fines Google and Telegram
Snapshot
  • Russia has fined Google and Telegram 2 million Russian rouble and 4 million Russian rouble respectively for failing to delete banned content.

    The country's officials have regularly requested tech firms to remove pornographic, suicide, and drug-related links and posts, as well as information about Russia's internal affairs.

A Moscow court fined Alphabet Inc.'s (GOOGL.O) Google 2 million Russian rouble ($28,085) on 8 November for failing to delete content that Russia considers illegal, as part of a larger dispute between Moscow and the American tech giant. This is an addition to 32 million Russian rouble in previous fines already paid by Google.

As reported, the court also ordered the messaging service platform Telegram, which also functions as an unauthorised news distribution network, to pay 4 million Russian rouble.

According to the court orders, both the corporations failed to remove content that the Russian authorities deemed illegal. The Moscow court postponed two more Google lawsuits until 29 November to give a Google representative more time to review case papers.

In authority's boldest measure yet to rein in international tech corporations, Russia has threatened to fine Google a percentage of its annual Russian turnover for repeatedly failing to remove banned information from its search engine and YouTube platform. According to reports, on 8 November, Google confirmed the news about the latest fine.

Russia is pushing down on huge internet companies in what is commonly referred to as a campaign for internet "sovereignty" by primarily American companies. Officials have regularly requested tech firms to remove pornographic, suicide, and drug-related links and posts, as well as information about Russia's internal affairs.

The internet regulators in the country ordered in January this year that social media platforms erase tweets and videos purportedly encouraging children to attend opposition demonstrations.

At that time, the federal agency, Roskomnadzor said in a statement: “Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, VKontakte, Odnoklassniki and YouTube will be fined for non-compliance with requirements to prevent the dissemination of calls to minors to participate in unauthorised rallies.”

Later, in September, the government forced Google and Apple to remove a tactical voting app, “Smart Voting”, promoted by imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny before the parliamentary election. Russian lawmakers warned the companies' representatives that if the app was not removed, they could face criminal charges.

Recently, officials claimed that a Moscow court has ordered the collection of fines from Facebook for violating Russian regulations on illicit content. As reported, following Facebook's inability to pay the fines, the Tagansky District Court in Russia's capital ordered bailiffs to collect 26 million Russian rouble (about $361,000).

If the dispute persists, Roskomnadzor has threatened to impose significantly higher fines, possibly requiring payment of 5-10 per cent of Facebook's Russian sales turnover.

According to Daphne Keller, director of Stanford University's Cyber Policy Center's platform regulation initiative, what is going on in Russia is part of a global pattern of comparable internet limitations.

She said: “There are two stages to it. One is to pass laws requiring platforms to do some things to signify their compliance upfront—before they even receive a takedown request,”—citing rules requiring businesses to have a local office with staff or store data in the country.

“Then there’s the separate stage of sending takedown requests using new laws that give them additional teeth and penalties they can now bring to bear,” added Keller.

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