After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Google formed its exit strategy from Russia, suspending all ads by March, then blocking Play Store app sales and removing most of its employees by May. After that, Google has only continued to provide free services to Russian Internet users, like Search, Gmail, Maps, or YouTube, and now, Google might be paying big for that decision.
This week, Russian regulator Roskomnadzor announced that a Russian court ordered the tech giant to pay its steepest fine yet since the Ukraine war started, citing Google’s “repeated failure” to remove “prohibited content” deemed “fake.” Unless Google manages to appeal the decision, it will have to fork over approximately $374 million for not restricting content that goes against Russian interests. Examples include content discrediting the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, promoting extremism, or inciting young people to join mass protests (which Russia banned).
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment on a possible appeal, but the company knew a fine was coming. It just perhaps didn’t know how large a fine. Roskomnadzor warned Google last month that it would be fined 5 to 10 percent of its annual turnover, but TechCrunch estimates that ultimately “the new fine would be around 15 percent of the company’s annual turnover.” (Roskomnadzor did not immediately respond to Ars’ request to clarify the percent of Google’s annual turnover the fee represents.)