15 Apr 2022 18:58

Google, Wikimedia Foundation face millions in fines for failure to delete incorrect information about Russian special operation in Ukraine - Moscow court

MOSCOW. April 15 (Interfax) - A magistrate's court in Moscow on Friday registered administrative cases on Wikimedia Foundation Inc. and Google over refusals to delete content banned in Russia.

"The court has received two administrative offense protocols for Wikimedia Foundation Inc. and two administrative protocols for Google," the court told Interfax.

The Russian telecommunications watchdog Roskomnadzor earlier filed and sent to the court protocols for Wikimedia Foundation Inc. based on the Russian Administrative Offences Code article on the failure to remove any content banned in Russia, and the organization is now facing a court order to pay up to 8,000,000 million rubles in fines. Google has had two protocols filed for an offence described in the code as an internet resource owner's failure to delete any information or webpages containing calls for extremist activities. The company is facing a fine of up to 12,000,000 rubles.

According to the court, Wikimedia Foundation Inc. and Google may be held accountable under Russian administrative law and face fines for refusing to delete incorrect information about the special military operation in Ukraine, calls for extremism against Russian citizens and some other things.

The hearings will be held in the 422nd magistrate judicial district in Moscow's Tagansky district on April 21, the court said.

Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. is a non-for-profit, charitable organization which supports infrastructure for the operations of a number of multi-language crowdsourcing Wiki-projects, including Wikipedia.

Roskomnadzor revealed earlier that in compliance with a requirement of the Russian Prosecutor General's Office, it had sent a letter to the administration of Wikipedia, urging it to immediately delete false information regarding the special military operation of the Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine, as it is misleading to Russian users.

On March 29, representatives of the Russian branch of Wikipedia said on social media that the complaints from the Russian Prosecutor General's Office concern the title of an article and some characteristics attributed to the actions of the Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine, and some other information, "which is in conflict with the official information published by the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation."

Roskomnadzor later confirmed the fact that it had sent such a letter.

The leading internet services Google, Telegram, Facebook (an information resource of an organization banned in Russia), Twitter, and TikTok have been repeatedly held liable for violating Russian laws since the beginning of last year.

The total amount of fines these foreign companies have been ordered to pay in Russia since the beginning of 2021 has now surpassed 200,000,000 rubles.

Meta (designated as an extremist organization and banned in Russia) and Google have been ordered to pay revenue-based fines accounting for 5% of their annual revenues in 2020, for repeatedly violating Russian laws. In particular, a Russian court ordered Meta to pay almost 2,000,000,000 rubles, and Google more than 7,200,000,000 rubles in revenue-based fines.