💻 Moscow Wants A Different Alphabet
Russia's crackdown on the Internet is heating up. A local court has levied an 8% fine of revenue (or $98m) against Alphabet, Google's parent company, for failure to remove content the government has deemed illegal. The action is the first revenue-based fine of its kind in the country, and comes as the Russian government accuses tech giants of disrupting domestic affairs.
According to The Verge, Russia's banned content mandate "includes promotion of drugs and posts by organizations the government says are extremist or terroristic, including those associated with opposition leader Alexei Navalny."
Google told The Verge that it will "study the court documents when they are available and then decide on next steps," which could mean the tech behemoth isn't willing to roll over that easily.
The court also fined Meta (the parent company of Facebook) and Twitter for similar violations.
A new law requires smartphones, laptops, and other smart devices sold in Russia to be installed with Russian-made apps, notes the BBC.
Moscow v. Silicon Valley
Russia has increasingly become an international cyber-bully in recent years. The Kremlin not only has a cozy relationship with (if not an outright state sponsorship of) hacking organizations, but it’s been tightening restrictions on internet freedoms at home.
Putin's increased belligerence abroad and restrictions at home seem to suggest a weakened autocrat who perceives the freedoms of the Internet as a threat. It will be interesting to see if Google, Meta, and other tech giants choose to stand for freedom and potentially lose a large market, or fold to Putin's authoritarian demands and stay open for business.