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July 30, 2021updated 06 Aug 2021 3:11pm

Russia fines Google 14 cattle for violating data law

By Robert Scammell

A Moscow court has fined Google 3 million roubles for violating Russian personal data law, equivalent to approximately US$41,000. Or, in Google’s terms, approximately 7 seconds of revenue.

It’s the first time Google has been fined for breaching that particular law in Russia, which aims to compel companies to store the data of Russian citizens on Russian soil.

Google confirmed the fine to Reuters and said it would not comment further.

Google parent company Alphabet reported record revenue of $181bn in 2020 – or around $5,739 per second – so it’s unlikely that the tech giant will be feeling the pinch.

The fine is equivalent to 0.00002265% of Google’s 2020 revenue, or the same price as approximately 14 cows (depending on weight, age and gender).

In 2014 Google spent nearly six times more than the Russian penalty on a Christmas party for its employees in Ireland.

Or if Google CEO Sundar Pichai was feeling particularly generous towards his company, he could sacrifice 0.55% of his annual compensation package to pay the fine himself.

Alternatively, Pichai could offer to buy Vladimir Putin the world’s most expensive dessert, the Frrrozen Haute Chocolate ice cream Sunday, and pay the rest in Google Ads credits.

Given that Google’s advertising business brought in $50.44bn in its most recent quarter, the tech behemoth can likely afford the peace offering.

Russia’s fine is in stark contrast to the $57m fine levied by French regulators over a data privacy breach and a different league entirely to the $5bn fine levied by the European Commission on antitrust grounds in 2018.

It’s not, however, the first time that Russia has hit Google with fines, having previously penalised it for not deleting banned content.

Nor is Google alone in being hit by penalties by Russia. Its regulators recently launched administrative proceedings against Facebook and Twitter for alleged breaches of its data storage laws.

And in May they were both told to open databases in Russia to store the data it holds on its citizens or face fines of up to 18 million roubles ($246,000) – that’s 82 cows, in case you were wondering.

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