© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Deputy of the State Duma Anton Gorelkin speaks during an interview with Reuters in Moscow, Russia August 13, 2019. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina/File Photo
(Reuters) -A Moscow court on Thursday said it had fined Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL)’s Google 15 million roubles ($260,000) for repeatedly failing to comply with a Russian law requiring technology companies to localise user data.
Russia has issued multiple fines to foreign technology companies in recent years over a range of infringements, in what critics say is Moscow’s attempt to exert greater control over the internet.
Google declined to comment.
Russia has restricted access to Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) and Meta Platforms Incs’ META) and Instagram, but Google and its YouTube video hosting service, though under pressure, remain available for now.Moscow particularly objects to YouTube’s treatment of Russian media, which it has blocked. But Anton Gorelkin, deputy head of the State Duma committee on information policy, said the U.S. company was not yet at risk of meeting the same fate.”Blocking is an extreme measure and YouTube and Google have not crossed this line of reasonableness, but they are involved in the information war against Russia,” Gorelkin told reporters at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum.
Moscow’s Tagansky District Court said it had imposed the fine for what it described as Google’s repeated failure to store the personal data of Russian users in databases on Russian territory. Google moved some employees out of Russia after Moscow sent troops into Ukraine in late February.
Photo-sharing application LikeMe was fined 1.5 million roubles for a first-time offence. LikeMe could not be reached for comment. Google’s ability to pay could be hampered as its Russian subsidiary announced plans to file for bankruptcy in May after authorities seized its bank account.Gorelkin said Google could not be a global leader without operations in China and pointed to Yandex (NASDAQ:YNDX), often referred to as Russia’s answer to Google, as a viable competitor. “I am certain that Google will stay in Russia if it does not cross the line,” he said.