Facebook may face hefty fine in Russia over banned content

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Russia may try to fine social media giant Facebook 10 percent of its annual Russian turnover for a repeated failure to delete content Moscow deems illegal, the Vedomosti daily reported on Thursday, as Russia ups the ante in its standoff with Big Tech.

Moscow has increased pressure on foreign tech companies over the last year as part of a long-running push to assert greater sovereignty over its segment of the internet, including efforts to make companies store Russians’ personal data on its territory.

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On Wednesday, Russia threatened to block YouTube after the video-hosting giant removed Russian state-backed broadcaster RT’s German-language channels from its site.

State communications regulator Roskomnadzor said Facebook’s repeated violations, which include failing to remove posts containing child pornography, drug abuse and extremist content, could see it fined 5 percent or 10 percent of its annual Russian turnover, Vedomosti reported.

Roskomnadzor and Facebook had no immediate comment.

Earlier this year, Roskomnadzor wrote to Facebook and other social media firms demanding they remove posts containing calls for minors to participate in anti-government protests after the arrest of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

Vedomosti cited experts who estimated Facebook’s annual Russian turnover at around 12 billion roubles ($165 million).

Reuters could not immediately verify that estimate.

Roskomnadzor has opened 17 different administrative cases against Facebook this year for failing to delete banned content, court documents showed, with 64 million roubles owed in fines or pending.

A turnover fine would dwarf those levied so far.

“Facebook’s administration has not paid the fines,” Vedomosti cited Roskomnadzor as saying.

Read more: Russia finds Facebook failed to provide information on data

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