Times are changing, and it is not just due to the pandemic (although it is not without its faults). For a long time, tech giants and the biggest names in the industry have reigned unchecked, bypassing domestic laws and even abusing their dominance in the market to stifle competition and prefer some sellers over others. Slowly but steadily however, this scenario is changing.
Today, countries are holding these giants accountable and putting checks to stop them from reigning supreme in the market, thereby putting an end to its competition and bypassing the laws of the land. The Big Tech firms have been handed hefty fines more than once this year – this list includes names such as Apple, Amazon, Facebook (now Meta), Google, and others. Google has been fined several times this year (you may remember when it had been handed hefty fines in Italy and France), and now, it has been handed yet another fine in Russia.
That’s right, a Moscow court slapped Alphabet’s Google with a hefty sum of 7.2 billion roubles ($98 million) as fine, on Friday. What was the reason? It is because Google had not deleted content that Russia deems illegal. This content included posts that promoted drug abuse and dangerous pastimes, information about homemade weapons and explosives, as well as ones by groups it designates as extremist or terrorist.
This is also the first revenue-based fine of its kind in Russia, but it is hardly the first time Russia has fined tech giants and is clamping down on them. Earlier this month, Russia had fined Google 9 million roubles for not taking down content that had been deemed illegal by the government. It also fined Twitter, Facebook-owner Meta Platforms, and TikTok earlier this month for the same reason. It is thus clear that Russia is going all-out on its campaign against big tech firms, and things do not look to be changing anytime soon.
Back then, Meta had been fined 13 million roubles, Twitter had been fined 10 million roubles across two cases, and TikTok had been fined 4 million roubles. If these are steps by the Russian authorities for having tighter control over the internet, it is speculated that this will threaten both individual and corporate freedom, and we would be trading the domination of Big Tech firms for domination by the government authorities. Neither, a great scenario.