Russia's internet commission Roskomnadzor on Monday gave Google 24 hours to delete banned and illegal content. It has warned that not doing so would lead to fines and throttling of Google services in the country. The fines would range from 800,000 rubles to 4 million rubles and can go up to 10% of the company's total annual turnover. It has also told Google to unblock a YouTube video posted by the state-run Sputnik France outlet.
The Russian internet watchdog says Google has failed to remove 20-30% of links to content that is banned in Russia including 26,000 instances of illegal content which the search giant has been notified of.
Roskomnadzor told state-run TASS news agency:
This censorship of Russian media and the targeted support for illegal protest activity actually speak to the political colouring of Google's activities in Russia. Google is not not [sic] fully complying with its obligation to exclude from its search results in Russia links to internet sites with information prohibited in our country.
The ultimatum appeared just hours after it was disclosed that Google had filed a lawsuit in the Moscow Arbitration Court against Roskomnadzor over its earlier demands to remove 12 videos from YouTube which Russia says calls on minors to participate in unauthorized rallies.
Google and Russia have been clashing over various issues in recent months. YouTube has blocked the channel of pro-Kremlin, conservative Tsargrad TV and removed state-run RT videos which it said promoted coronavirus disinformation. Russia’s competition authorities are also investigating Google for alleged abuse of its market dominance.
Russian lawmakers last week submitted a draft bill that would force foreign technology companies to open offices in Russia if they wanted advertising business from Russian companies. Russia has also enacted laws requiring Russian-made apps, such as browsers and search engines, to be pre-installed on all smartphones sold in Russia.
The Russian government has already slowed down Twitter and has threatened to ban it in the country if it does not comply with its order. Roskomnadzor has previously requested companies like Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, and Twitter to delete posts, videos, and pictures that it believes encourage children to join protests.