Russia communications watchdog said on Monday that the country has opened a civil case against Google, accusing it of refusal to comply with a legal requirement to remove certain entries from its search results.
The watchdog, Roscomnadzor, said that if found guilty, the U.S. internet giant could be fined up to 10,450 dollars (700,000 roubles).
It noted that Google had not joined a state registry that listed banned websites that Moscow believed contained illegal information and was, therefore, in breach of the law.
A final decision in the case will be made in December, the watchdog said. Google has however, declined to comment.
It should be recalled that over the past five years, Russia has introduced tougher internet laws that require search engines to delete some search results, messaging services to share encryption keys with security services, and social networks to store Russian users’ personal data on servers within the country.
At the moment, the only tools Russia has to enforce its data rules are fines that typically only come to a few thousand dollars, or blocking the offending online services, which is an option fraught with technical difficulties.
Three sources familiar with the matter said that Russia plans to impose stiffer fines on technology firms that fail to comply with Russian laws.
The plans for harsher fines are contained in a consultation document prepared by the administration of President Vladimir Putin and sent to industry players for feedback.
The legislation, if it scales through, would hit global tech giants such as Facebook and Google, which – if found to have breached rules – could face fines equal to one per cent of their annual revenue in Russia, according to the sources.