Technology news

Russia fines Google $34 million for violating competition rules

Russia’s competition watchdog on Tuesday fined Alphabet’s Google 2 billion rubles ($34.2 million) for abusing its dominant position in the video hosting market, it said. the regulator in a press release.

The ruling is the latest multimillion-dollar fine in Moscow’s increasingly assertive campaign against foreign tech companies.

The Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) said the company had “abused its dominant position in the market for YouTube video hosting services”, without providing further details.

“We will study the text of the formal decision to determine our next steps,” Google said in a statement to Reuters.

Google must pay the fine within two months of taking effect, FAS said.

Russia has imposed numerous fines on the Russian subsidiary of Google in recent months. A court last week ordered him to pay 21.1 billion rubles ($358.7 million) for what prosecutors said were repeated refusals to remove content Russia deems illegal, such as “false news” about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Since Moscow launched what it calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine, it has also stepped up attacks on Western tech companies in its country in an effort to exert greater control over the online space, including by helping domestic players oust their Western rivals.

Gazprom Media – a media conglomerate linked to state-controlled gas giant Gazprom – has been heavily promoting RuTube, its Russian alternative to YouTube, which has seen a surge in traffic since February.

YouTube, which has blocked Russian state-funded media around the world, is under heavy pressure from Russia’s communications regulator and politicians.

Google stopped selling online advertising in Russia in early March, but kept some free services available. Its Russian subsidiary officially filed for bankruptcy after authorities seized its bank account, making it impossible to pay staff and suppliers.