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What just happened? Russia continues to slam Google with fines for failing to remove what it deems "prohibited content" from YouTube, most of which relates to the war in Ukraine. The latest incident saw Moscow slap the US giant with a 21.1 billion-rouble (~$373 million) penalty on Monday over videos that, among other things, promote "extremism and terrorism."
Russian communications regulator Roskomnadzor said the Tagansky District Court handed down the fine as Google repeatedly failed to restrict access to banned content, with YouTube singled out as a prime offender. It said the video platform had not deleted "fakes about the course of the special military operation in Ukraine, discrediting the armed forces of the Russian Federation," writes Reuters.
Even before the invasion of Ukraine, Russia and Google regularly clashed over issues ranging from where the company stored its data to not removing certain websites from search results. A Russian court slapped a $98 million fine on Google in December for failing to remove what it called illegal content.
Roskomnadzor threatened to hit Google with more fines over the offending YouTube videos in March. It said the fee would start at around $95,000 but could rise to 20% of the company's annual revenue. The latest fine has been calculated from a share of Google's turnover in Russia.
The big question now is whether Google will pay the money. The firm's Russian subsidiary filed for bankruptcy recently after authorities seized its bank account, leaving it unable to meet financial obligations, including paying staff, suppliers, and vendors.
A report in May revealed YouTube had removed more than 70,000 videos and 9,000 channels over content relating to the Ukraine war, often due to the invasion being referred to as a "liberation mission." Google has also suspended all advertising in Russia, including on YouTube, over Russia's aggression. But despite Google News being banned in the country, YouTube remains accessible.