Google Pays Fines to Russia Over Failing to Remove Content Deemed Illegal

American tech giant Google has paid Russia more than 32 million rubles ($455,079) in fines for not deleting content deemed illegal by Moscow, a Russian lawmaker said on Monday.

“Today, the figure of fines issued by Google for not removing illegal content was announced in the amount of 32.5 million rubles,” said Vasilii Piskarev, head of the Russian Committee on Security and Corruption Control, Russian news agency Interfax quoted him as saying.

“Marco Pancini told us that they paid these fines,” Piskarev noted, speaking at an Oct. 25 news conference after the final results of online meetings between Russian officials and the management of Google and YouTube. Pancini leads YouTube’s public policy work in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

Pancini said in a blog post that Google had paid all enforced fines on time. These stood at 32.5 million rubles for this year, communications regulator Roskomnadzor said last week.

Roskomnadzor said last week that if Google fails to pay the penalties levied so far this year, it would seek a fine of 5 to 20 percent of Google’s Russian turnover, which could reach as much as $240 million.

The fines come as Moscow accused the U.S. tech giant of repeatedly failing to delete banned content on its search engine and YouTube.

Roskomnadzor announced on Monday it has the technical capability to slow down the speed of YouTube, Interfax reported, but that administrative measures are currently sufficient.

In 2020, Google’s compliance with requests to delete content was 96.2 percent, Pancini said, and in the first half of this year, it removed over 489,000 videos, but Russia said too much banned content still remained available.

Piskarev said last week that this included child pornography. Russia has ordered other foreign tech firms to delete posts promoting drug abuse and dangerous pastimes, information about homemade weapons and explosives, as well as ones by groups it designates as extremist or terrorist.

The Russian lawmaker also noted that, throughout Monday’s dialogue, Pancini has declared that Google will comply with Moscow’s laws and “are ready to interact … with our state bodies and with deputies as well,” Interfax reported.

Pancini told Piskarev during the meeting that technical difficulties blocked Google’s ability to delete all of the content deemed illegal.

Reuters contributed to this report.