For YouTube’s failure to remove banned content, Russia fines Google IDR 5.4 trillion

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Russia has fined Google US$ 365 million (21 billion rubles, or around IDR 5.4 trillion) for violating the rules in relation to prohibited content in the country.

In a Russian-language press release on its official website, communications regulator Roskomnadzor said Google is unable to restrict access to information the government deems prohibited.

“In particular, YouTube, which is owned by Google, does not restrict access to a number of materials with prohibited content for a certain period of time,” Roskomnadzor wrote.

Some of the so-called banned content, such as “faking the history of special military operations in Ukraine,” is considered discrediting of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.

Other content that Russia has banned includes that which “promotes extremism and terrorism” as well as that which “promotes indifference to the life and health of minors”.

Citing The Verge, Friday (7/22/2022) last March, Roskomnadzor threatened to accuse Google of failing to remove YouTube videos they deemed illegal.

At that point, Russia’s communications regulator will charge eight million rubles, potentially up to 20 percent of Google’s annual revenue.

It is not known whether Google will pay the fine to Russia. The US company did not react to this sanction. Apart from that, as is well known, there are still tensions because of the Ukraine war.

Google itself announced plans to end its operations in Russia last May. The company has also filed for bankruptcy in the country.

They also called on government agencies to seize their assets in the country, saying it was “unsustainable” to keep Google Russia running.

Citing The Verge, Thursday (5/19/2022), Google Russia reportedly made $2,086 billion in profit and employed more than 100 people.

“The authorities’ seizure of Google Russia’s bank accounts has resulted in the inability of our offices in Russia to function, including hiring and paying Russian-based employees,” a Google spokesperson told The Verge.

Google also complained that bank account seizures prevented the company from paying suppliers and vendors and meeting other financial obligations.

“Google Russia has issued a notice of its intention to file for bankruptcy,” the spokesman said.

In March 2022, Google suspended ad sales in Russia shortly after the country invaded Ukraine.

In addition, Google-owned YouTube plans to ban ads on channels owned by pro-government media of the Russian Federation. Google eventually blocked these channels entirely.

Last December, Russia fined Google $98 million. At the time, Google failed to remove content that Russia deemed illegal from its platform. The fine is equivalent to 8 percent of Google Russia’s revenue.

Reuters also reported that a Russian TV station claimed authorities seized $15 million from Google in April for failing to recover YouTube accounts from pro-government media.

Then, in June 2022, Russia’s telecommunications regulator Roskomnadzor reportedly fined Google 68 million rubles (about 18 billion rupees).

Russia has accused Google of spreading “unreliable” information about the war in Ukraine.

Additionally, Russia believes the search engine giant has failed to remove unreliable or fake information from its platform.

Roskomnadzor said YouTube also helped spread inaccurate information about the war in Ukraine, thereby slandering the Russian army.

It said YouTube is currently hosting more than 7,000 promotional materials that telecom surveillance authorities have ruled illegal.

Materials included promoting extremist views, indifference to the life and health of minors, and calls for protests.

“Google LLC has repeatedly been held administratively responsible for violating Russian laws,” Roskomnadzor said.

“Google failed to remove the prohibited information. For this, Google was fined a total of 18 billion rupees,” he continued.

Google also faces fines of up to 10 percent of Russia’s annual revenue. Because the company is said to have repeatedly failed to restrict access to material containing information prohibited in Russia.


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