Google Pays Russia Fine over Unfiltered Search Results

U.S.-based tech giant Google has paid a fine of 500,000 rubles (around $7,600) for failing to remove search links to banned information, Russia’s state media and telecom watchdog Roskomnadzor said Friday, according to TASS news agency.

Roskomnadzor imposed the fine in December, accusing Google of breaching the Russian legislation that requires search engine operators to exclude links to web pages with prohibited information from search results.

When Roskomnadzor issued the fine last month, 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 — have complied with 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 organizing 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.

Meanwhile, Roskomnadzor will on Monday start a comprehensive scheduled check of the personal data storage system of Apple Rus, the Russian division of U.S. high-tech giant Apple Inc., it was reported Friday.

The watchdog said Apple Rus had sent it a notification that the company had started processing personal data of Russian citizens in Russia as required by law.

In December, Roskomnadzor initiated administrative procedures against U.S. companies Twitter and Facebook for non-compliance with the Russian law.