Lack of (or slow) censorship of Google and Telegram has brought them new fines ruled by a Russian court. Alphabet (the mother company of Google) is to pay a fine of 2 million Rubles (about 25 million EUR), while Telegram is fined 4 million Rubles (about 50 million EUR). They have been found guilty of not deleting content which the Russian authorities deem illegal.
The Moscow court further postponed two more cases against Google for more or less the same crimes. This was done so that the defendant could have some additional time to study the accusations.
By far these are not the first fines of their kind. Almost all tech giants have suffered in the past couple of years, from what is sometimes deemed the “fight for Russian internet sovereignty” (whatever that means).
The official request for taking down content is targeting pornography, drugs, and suicide. However, in addition to these, requests to discontinue posts regarding Russian politics, opposition, and protests are also a frequent occurrence.
In early 2021 state officials requested that Google and Apple take down a voting app developed by jailed dissident Alexei Navalny. The companies complied and avoided fines then, however, Mr. Navalny accused them of having “committed a shameful act” and of “compliance with the regime”.
Pressures on internet content distributors in Russia do not appear to have any trend of stopping soon. Authorities are rather stepping up their requests for content censorship.