Moscow: A Russian court said on Tuesday that it has fined US social media companies Facebook and Twitter for failing to remove content that Moscow considers illegal, as part of Russia’s broader crackdown on the Internet and large technology companies.
The Taganski District Court stated that Facebook has been fined five penalties totaling 21 million rubles (US$287,850). It stated that Twitter received two fines totaling 5 million rubles.
The court stated that the popular instant messaging application Telegram has been fined 9 million rubles. Facebook, Twitter and Telegram did not immediately comment.
Moscow’s actions to strengthen Internet control include requiring foreign Internet companies to open mature offices in Russia and store Russian personal data on its territory.
On Tuesday, the government announced a plan to impose a new tax on foreign-funded digital services, a move aimed at supporting its domestic technology industry.
In March of this year, the national communications regulator Roskomnadzor began to hinder the speed of Twitter because it did not delete banned materials fast enough.
Before Russia’s parliamentary elections on September 17-19, Internet services are facing increasing pressure. Roskomnadzor is trying to block virtual private networks (VPN) and online resources related to the imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.
Regulators are trying to restrict access to apps that Navalny’s team plans to use to organize tactical or “smart” voting campaigns in elections. Read more Navalny’s militant network was banned during the political crackdown this summer.
According to Interfax news agency, the Russian Federal Marshals Service said on Tuesday that it wants to force Alphabet’s Google (GOOGL.O) to comply with a court order to prohibit the use of the term “smart voting” in its keyword search system.
The Kommersant newspaper quoted sources as saying that late Monday, the state marshal came to an office building and confronted local Google employees. Google did not respond to a request for comment.