Russian court fines Google $50.8 million over 'fake' information about Ukraine conflict

Written by Jeppe W

Dec.20 - 2023 2:17 PM CET


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In a significant legal decision, a Russian court has imposed a hefty fine of 4.6 billion roubles, equivalent to $50.84 million, on Alphabet Inc.'s Google.

The fine was issued for Google's failure to delete what the Russian authorities have termed "fake" information about the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, among other issues, as reported by the TASS news agency.

This ruling is part of Russia's ongoing and intensifying dispute with foreign technology firms over issues related to content censorship, data, and local representation.

The tensions have escalated notably since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

RIA news agency highlighted that the fine was also attributed to Google's alleged inaction in removing "extremist content" and distributing what is described by Russian law as "LGBT propaganda".

Google has not immediately responded to requests for comment on the matter.

The context of this fine is deeply rooted in Russia's characterization of its actions in Ukraine as a "special military operation".

Moreover, in November, the Russian Supreme Court decreed LGBT activists to be labeled as "extremists", a decision that has raised fears among gay and transgender communities about potential arrests and prosecutions.

Alphabet's YouTube platform has been a particular focus of the Russian government's scrutiny. However, unlike other major social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, which are owned by Meta Platforms and have faced blocking in Russia, YouTube remains accessible.

The calculation of the fine is based on a percentage of Google's annual turnover in Russia. Previously, Google had been subjected to similar turnover-based fines of 7.2 billion roubles in late 2021 and 21.1 billion roubles in August 2022.