Moscow court has imposed a hefty fine of 15 million roubles (approximately $164,000) on Google, the tech giant owned by Alphabet. The reason behind the penalty is Google’s repeated refusal to store personal data of Russian users on servers located within Russia. This decision aligns with Russia’s legal requirement for foreign companies to localize the personal data of their Russian users.
This is not the first time Google has faced such fines in Russia. Prior to this, in August 2021 and June 2022, the company was fined for the same charges. The court at Moscow’s Tagansky district found Google in violation of Russian law, emphasizing the importance of storing personal data within the country.
In addition to these fines, Google had been previously ordered to pay 3 million rubles (about $32,800) for failing to delete allegedly false information about the war in Ukraine. These legal troubles have strained Google’s operations in Russia, with the company’s Russian subsidiary filing for bankruptcy in the summer of 2022 after authorities seized its bank account, preventing it from paying staff and vendors.
Despite the bans on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook in Russia, Google’s services, including its search engine and YouTube, remain accessible. This sets Google apart as a prominent tech player in the Russian digital landscape.
Beyond legal matters, Google’s video platform YouTube is implementing a policy change set to take effect in 2024. Video creators will be required to disclose if they upload manipulated or synthetic content that appears realistic. This includes videos generated using artificial intelligence tools, depicting events that never occurred or individuals saying or doing things they did not do.
Moreover, starting from December 1, Google will begin deleting certain personal data, such as Gmail messages, Google Photos libraries, Google Calendar appointments, and Google Docs archives. This move aims to address privacy concerns and follows a series of warning emails sent out by Google in July. Accounts considered inactive will receive reminder emails before any action is taken.