Over the past few years, Google has actively tried to curb the spread of piracy and copyright-infringing content over the internet. In 2014, it removed The Pirate Bay-related apps from the Google Play Store, and in 2017, it also announced that it received over one billion takedown requests in the previous year, out of which 914 million were approved. More recently, in February 2018, it also revamped its image search algorithms to protect Getty Images’ intellectual property.
However, the company may now be facing a fine in Russia for non-compliance regarding the country’s site-blocking regulations.
As reported by TorrentFreak, a legislation was recently approved in Russia, which forced ISPs and search engines to connect to a local database of banned sites before providing search results, so that copyright-infringing content is not displayed. However, it appears that while all other companies are complying with Russia’s rules, Google is not.
As such, the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media, also known as Roskomnadzor, has filed a complaint against Google for failing to preemptively block URLs stored in Russia’s blacklist of banned sites. The regulatory authority previously warned Google about non-compliance, giving the firm three days to rectify the issue.
However, now that Google has failed to comply – for reasons currently unknown – Roskomnadzor is taking the company to court. While the exact fine will be determined after the court passes its ruling, the expected amount is around 500,000 to 700,000 rubles (~$7,611 – $10,656). Roskomnadzor deputy head Vadim Subbotin had the following to say regarding the matter:
The decision was made on the basis of [a recent] inspection. We are now sending the act of verification to Google. They have certain deadlines to object to our verification activities and send us their objections. We will see what their response is.
While the $10,000 fine may appear to be small, it is significant because of its symbolic value. If imposed, Google will be the first company to be fined for violating the particular law in Russia, which will likely set precedent for other firms operating in the country as well.