The measure will mainly affect the giant’s Facebook, Google, and Twitter :
Russia’s internet regulator will increase fines imposed on US big techs operating in the country, such as Facebook and Alphabet, if they refuse to delete material deemed illegal by the Kremlin, according to an announcement by the state agency on Monday. Companies must pay compensation equivalent to 5% to 20% of annual income in the country.
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In 2021, Facebook has already been charged with paying 66 million rubles, Russian currency, equivalent to US$ 900,000, while Twitter pays 38.4 million rubles (US$ 523.6 thousand) and Google, 26 million. rubles ($354.5 thousand), according to Roskomnadzor, the federal communications watchdog.
Russia pressures foreign technology companies in the context of an anti-Kremlin movement erupting in 2021. Last week, Apple and Google removed the Smart Voting app, which helps protesters vote against incumbent politicians after authorities accuse interference companies in elections to the Russian Parliament.
The takedown of content by Google, following demands from the Russian government, has grown rapidly in recent years. Company transparency reports claim that in 2015, the company received notices to delete less than 5,000 content. In 2020, there were more than 340 thousand.
In Russia, big techs have also been accused of other violations, such as alleged breach of monopoly laws, which led to Apple paying $12 million, and storage of Russian personal data, which earned Google a fine. $3 million. LinkedIn, Google’s professional platform, was blocked in the country in 2016 for refusing to store information locally.
The Russian government’s crusade against access to information intensified after the arrest of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny in January after his return to the country. Several independent media outlets are being labeled as “outside agents” and are forced to close down or meet onerous claims.
The government has forced Internet service providers to install equipment that can block websites and therefore restrict access to private networks by the Russian population, which can protect online anonymity.