A Russian court fined Google about $360 million (21.1 billion rubles) on Monday for failing to remove content the country deems illegal, including coverage of the war in Ukraine.
The forbidden content includes clips encouraging Russian citizens to participate in protests and news Moscow considers “fake.”
Censorship on Russian social media channels is not new, but efforts have ramped up since the war in Ukraine began. Four months ago, President Vladimir V. Putin signed a law effectively criminalizing any public opposition to the war as an attempt to silence critics while spotlighting pro-Kremlin media. Under this law, even the use of the word “war” is off limits.
The Tagansky District Court in Moscow imposed the fine on Google for a “repeated failure” to remove the banned content. A Telegram post from the Russian internet regulator Roskomnadzor singled out YouTube in particular, which is owned by Google, for hosting anti-Russian media.
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Russian government has fined Google more than $123 million (7.2 billion rubles) for such offenses, according to Roskomnadzor. On one occasion last year, the internet regulator told Google that if it did not remove illegal content, Russia would slow access to the company’s sites.
Moscow has cracked down on other tech companies on similar grounds since the war began. The Russian government blocked access to Facebook in March, making it the first American social media giant barred by the Kremlin.
Even before the war, Facebook’s parent company, Meta, was fined $27.5 million (2 billion rubles) last year for illegal content on Facebook and Instagram. TikTok was also fined last year for not removing posts the Russian authorities claimed were encouraging minors to participate in illegal demonstrations.