Russia set to play hardball with big tech firms

Tech firms like Google could face big fines in Russia if they don’t comply with legislation on data. Julian Satterthwaite reports

MOSCOW, RUSSIA {REUTERS / GOOGLE) – Russia may be about to get tough with big tech firms.

Google, Facebook and others potentially facing major fines.

That as Moscow moves to make them comply with internet laws.

Christian Lowe is Reuters’ bureau chief there:


“Three years ago Russia introduced a package of legislation which would give the state greater control over the data on users held by the tech companies. For example, it would require them, if they are storing users’ data, to keep the servers where that data is stored inside Russia and in some cases to share data on users with Russian intelligence agencies.”

Russia also wants search engines to delete some results, and messaging services to share encryption keys.

Just one problem for Moscow.

Big tech has refused to comply.

Facebook for one has refused to move its servers to Russia.

Fines to force them to do so have proved too puny – just a few thousand dollars.

Now documents seen by Reuters suggest Moscow is ready to turn up the heat.


“What they will do, according to proposals that we’ve seen, that are being prepared, will levy a fine that’s equivalent to one percent of what a company earns in Russia in a year. Now let’s take the example of Google, so it’s earnings in Russia last year, for its Russia unit, were about 680 million dollars, so one percent of that, 6.8 million dollars, is already a significant amount.”

No official word from the Kremlin yet.

Facebook only saying it is in discussion with regulators.

The same regulators saying Google has refused to comply with requests to remove search results about organizations banned in Russia.

Very soon, the tech giant may have to choose whether to start complying or start paying up.

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  • Alphabet Inc.
  • World Wide Web
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