Google Fined $260,000 By Russia Over No Local Data Storage

Russia continues to penalise Western tech firms, with officials once again levelling another fine against Alphabet’s Google.

Reuters, citing the Tass news agency, reported that a Moscow court fined Alphabet’s Google (GOOGL.O) 15 million roubles ($260,000) on Thursday for refusing to comply with Russia’s law requiring technology companies to localise user data.

Most western tech firms have already left Russia, and big name social networking giants such as Twitter or Facebook are blocked in the country. YouTube however remains of one of the few western technology platforms available to Russian citizens.

Ongoing fines

And Russia has repeatedly levied fines against Google and other foreign tech firms, and it seeks to force them to comply with its repressive rules.

Last month Russia’s communications regulator opened administrative cases against Google and six other foreign technology companies for what it called violations of data protection legislation.

Earlier in May Russian bailiffs seized 7.7bn roubles from Google that had been ordered as part of a fine calculated on the basis of the company’s annual turnover – the first time such a fine had been levied in Russia.

Soon after that Google said it was filing for its Russian subsidiary to be declared bankrupt after Russian authorities seized its main Russian bank account and transferred the funds out of the account, leaving it with no funds to pay contractors or staff.

Google has reportedly already moved most of its employees out of the country.

Despite Russia’s hostile attitude to Google, the deputy head of the State Duma parliamentary committee on information policy, Anton Gorelkin, said on Thursday he expected Google would remain in Russia.

Moscow has no intention of blocking YouTube, Gorelkin was quoted as saying by Reuters this week. This sentiment was expressed last month as well.

Russian restrictions

The actions come against a backdrop of ongoing tensions between Russia and foreign tech firms that has intensified since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

The regulator has tried to enforce rules about removing illegal content and censoring Russian media overseas.

Roskomnadzor has also pressured foreign tech companies to open local offices in Russia, but following Russia’s invasion and global sanctions, many of these offices have been closed down.

As far back as 2014 Russia had required foreign IT giants to store the personal data of Russian citizens on servers located in Russia itself.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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