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Moscow court fines Google nearly $100 million for failing to delete 'illegal' content

A sign is pictured outside a Google office near the company's headquarters in Mountain View, California. (Reuters file photo)

A Moscow court slapped Google with an unprecedented hefty fine of nearly $100 million on Friday.

Moscow has piled fines on the world's biggest internet platforms, accusing them of not moderating their content properly and interfering in the country's affairs.

But so far fines on Facebook parent company Meta, Twitter, and Google have stretched into the tens of millions of rubles, not billions.

However on Friday, a Moscow court fined Google a record 7.2 billion rubles, ($98 million, 86 million euros) for repeatedly failing to delete illegal content, the court's press service said on Telegram.

The content was not specified, but Russia regularly takes legal action for not removing such illegal content as pornographic material or posts condoning drugs and suicide.

"We'll study the court documents and then decide on next steps," Google's press service told AFP.

Interfax news agency said that the massive fine was calculated as a percentage of Google's annual earnings and was the maximum penalty for a repeated violation.

Meta -- which had a hearing in court later Friday on the same charges -- has also been warned of a revenue-based fine.

On Thursday, Twitter was handed its latest fine of three million rubles ($40,000).

In July, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law requiring foreign social media giants to set up physical offices in Russia or face harsh penalties, ranging from advertising bans to being fully blocked in the country, amid their failures to address Moscow’s concerns over the distribution of illegal contents.

Starting on January 1, 2022, the law would apply to internet giants with a daily audience in Russia of at least 500,000 people, said Alexander Khinshtein, the head of the information policy and IT committee at the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament.

According to Khinshtein, the firms must register a personal account on the website of Roskomnadzor, Russia’s communications regulator.

(Source: AFP)

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