Moscow: Russia’s communications watchdog gave Google 24 hours on Monday to remove what it called banned content or be fined and said Moscow could potentially slow down the company’s traffic in the country.
Russia has already imposed a punitive slowdown on the American social network Twitter Inc. to not remove banned content, as part of a push by Moscow to curb Western tech giants and strengthen what it calls its “sovereignty” on the Internet.
Russian watchdog Roskomnadzor said he sent more than 26,000 calls to Google to remove illegal information, including videos containing information about drugs or violence and material from what he said. called extremist organizations.
Google will be fined 800,000 rubles to 4 million rubles ($ 10,800-54,000) if it does not restrict access to prohibited information, Roskomnadzor said. A repeat offense would be punishable by a fine of up to 10% of the company’s total annual turnover, he said.
Google Russia did not respond to a request for comment on the watchdog deadline.
Roskomnadzor also accused Google of censorship for allegedly restricting YouTube’s access to Russian media, including RT and Sputnik. “This Russian media censorship and targeted support for illegal protest activity is in fact a testament to the political coloring of Google’s activities in Russia,” Roskomnadzor said.
Google’s Russian branch last week appealed against a Moscow court ruling requiring it to unblock the YouTube account of an Orthodox Christian news channel owned by a Russian businessman subject to US financial sanctions and European.
Moscow court documents also showed on Monday that Google was suing Roskomnadzor over requests to remove banned content.
Roskomnadzor said the lawsuit concerned 12 YouTube links to “illegal content” that involved encouraging minors to join unauthorized protests in January, when people across Russia took to the streets to support the critic imprisoned in the Kremlin Alexei Navalny. Navalny and his allies have used YouTube extensively to broadcast corruption allegations against senior Russian officials and to organize their opposition activities.
President Vladimir Putin’s staunch critic’s YouTube channel has nearly 6.5 million subscribers.
Google filed its complaint on April 23, according to documents from the Moscow Arbitration Tribunal, but it was not accepted until May 11 after some administrative issues were addressed. A hearing is scheduled for July 14.
Google Russia declined to comment on the lawsuit.