According to the Interfax news agency, Facebook has paid 17 million rubles ($229,643) in fines owed in Russia for failing to erase content that Moscow deems unlawful, but a possibly higher fine looms.
Meta, along with Alphabet’s Google, is set to appear in court next week for alleged persistent violations of Russian content laws, and might be penalized a percentage of its yearly income in Russia. On Sunday, a request for comment from Facebook was not immediately returned.
In October, Russia dispatched official bailiffs to collect 17 million rubles in fines levied on Facebook. According to the federal bailiff service’s database, there were no further enforcement procedures against Interfax as of Sunday. This year, Moscow has upped its pressure on global Internet corporations in what opponents see as an attempt by Russian authorities to exercise tighter control over the internet, which they believe undermines individual and corporate freedom.
Telegram, a messaging app, has also paid a punishment of 15 million rubles, according to Interfax. A request for comment from Telegram was not immediately returned.
It’s worth noting that Facebook had a run-in with Moscow earlier this month, resulting in a payment of 4 million rubles ($53,000) for failing to comply with Russian data localization regulations, according to the Moscow Times. On November 25, a Moscow court ruled that Facebook had paid the fine levied in February and that all charges against the US-based social media giant had been dropped. The payment is in response to the lawsuit filed against the firm and Twitter in 2018. In addition, the internet businesses were fined an extra 3000 rubles ($40) for failing to follow the law’s user data sharing restrictions. LinkedIn, which is owned by Microsoft, was previously prohibited by Russian authorities for breaking the law.
According to the Moscow Times, all international technology businesses are obligated to store data connected to Russian clients and users on Russian servers under Russian social media control regulations. In addition, Russian tech firms will be required to disclose encryption data with federal authorities, as well as record user calls, messages, and civil society group conversations. The system is claimed to be a serious violation of privacy rights, with unrestricted back-door access to personal data that may be used to harass Kremlin dissidents.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused social networking platforms and other cyber behemoths of breaking the country’s Internet rules, including an effort to force international companies to create offices in Russia and retain Russian citizens’ personal data there.
Many critics claim that the initiative has little to do with “Internet integrity” and instead accuse the government of attempting to silence dissenters.