Russia Wants to Penalize Google for Failing to Remove Certain Links in Search Results

November 26, 2018, 9:36 PM UTC

The Russian government wants to penalize Google for failing to remove unspecified website links from the company’s search engine results in the country.

The country’s communications and information technology regulatory arm, Roskomnadzor, said Monday that it opened a civil case against the search giant, which could result in fines of up to 700,000 rubles, or $10,450 in U.S. dollars.

Although Google could easily pay the minuscule fines, a Reuters report citing unnamed sources said that Russia could debut new laws that would levy stiffer fines against technology giants like Google and Facebook for failing to comply with the country’s Internet laws. Under the proposed tougher Russian law, these tech companies could be fined an amount that matches 1% of their annual sales in Russia, the report said.

“Under Russian law, search engine operators are obliged to exclude links to resources with illegal information from the results of search results,” Roskomnadzor said in a statement that was translated by Google’s Chrome browser. “To do this, they must connect to the federal state information system containing a list of prohibited Internet resources.”

Russia’s proposed fines highlight the challenges U.S. tech companies face operating in countries that maintain strict censorship laws governing what it deems appropriate for their citizens. Some of the websites and apps that are banned in Russia include the Microsoft-owned professional social network LinkedIn and the messaging service Telegram.

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Google has also been exploring a possible version of its search engine in China, which also has tough censorship laws that worry human-rights activists. The company publicly disclosed in October that it was working on its Project Dragonfly Chinese search engine, but executives have said that it is only an exploratory project.

Google declined to comment to Fortune on the proposed Russian fines.

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