U.S. internet giant Google has been fined in Russia once again for failing to ban sites ruled to be “extremist” from appearing in search results, Interfax reported citing a statement by the country’s communications watchdog Roskomnadzor.
The internet company had been fined 500,000 rubles ($7,530) for failing to block blacklisted pages under a law that came into force in September.
“The demands of the law were explained to Google representatives,” Roskomnadzor said in the statement.
The watchdog’s chief Alexander Zharov said Google had replied that “they consider they are observing Russian law.” Russia-based search engines — Yandex, Sputnik and Mail.ru — have complied to the law.
Russia has put increasing pressure on popular websites and apps in what opposition figures see as an attempt to silence the main forum for political debate and organising protests.
In the summer of 2012, Russia created a blacklist of sites showing child pornography or drug use and deemed to be “extremist” — a term vague enough to include opposition activism. The law was pushed through despite opposition from major internet companies.
Google last year promised to do more to fight Moscow’s “disinformation” after the Kremlin’s alleged interference in U.S. elections.
Russia in turn warned Google in September against “meddling” in its local elections by hosting opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s videos calling for mass protests. Under pressure, Google later that month removed the videos from its YouTube video platform.