Google gets fined from Russian watchdog as it broke antitrust law

After Russia’s antitrust commission found that Google had broken laws regarding account suspension and banning on its YouTube video service, the company risks a fine.

The fine will be established during an administrative examination, according to Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS), which added that Google’s actions had infringed on users’ rights and limited competition.

“Google is awaiting the full text of the ruling in order to review it,” the Alphabet (GOOGL.O) subsidiary stated.

In the previous year, Russia has fined Google multiple times for failing to delete content it deems illegal, as part of a broader effort that opponents see as an attempt by Russian authorities to impose tighter control over the internet.

In December, it increased the ante by fining the company 7.2 billion roubles ($97 million) for failing to remove forbidden items on a regular basis. Google has filed an appeal against the decision.

“The FAS discovered that the rules for creating, suspending, and blocking accounts on YouTube, as well as the management of user content, were non-transparent, prejudiced, and unexpected,” the FAS said in a statement.

Tsargrad TV, a Christian Orthodox broadcaster, was also the subject of a long-running dispute with YouTube, which Google disabled because the account was owned by a Russian billionaire who was subject to US sanctions.

In December, Konstantin Malofeev declared victory in the case, claiming that Google risked a hefty fine.

YouTube also drew Moscow’s ire last year when it took down a live stream of Russian broadcaster RT DE, as part of a larger feud that saw Russia shut down German broadcaster Deutsche Welle’s offices in Moscow and deprive its staff of their accreditation earlier this month.

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