Russia fines Apple for not deleting ‘inaccurate’ content on Ukraine conflict

MOSCOW (Reuters) -A Moscow court fined Apple 400,000 roubles ($4,274) on Thursday for not deleting “inaccurate” content about what Russia calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine on apps and podcasts, Russian news agencies reported.

The TASS news agency said it was the first time Apple had been fined for that offence. Interfax said Apple had not deleted applications and podcasts with incorrect information about the conflict in Ukraine.

Interfax cited the court as saying that the offending content included information “aimed at involving minors in illegal activities in order to destabilise the political situation in the Russian Federation”.

Apple did not respond to an emailed request for comment. The company paused all product sales in Russia shortly after Moscow sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine in February 2022, and limited its Apple Pay service in Russia.

Interfax said Apple’s lawyers in court asked for the session to be held behind closed doors in order to prevent the disclosure of trade secrets, following which the media were told to leave.

Moscow has clashed with Big Tech for years over content, censorship, data and local representation in disputes that escalated after Russia sent its armed forces into Ukraine.

Apple paid a 906-million-rouble fine in a Russian antitrust case alleging abuse of its dominance in the mobile apps market, Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) said in February.

Apple, which did not comment then, had previously appealed and “respectfully disagreed” with a FAS ruling that Apple’s distribution of apps through its iOS operating system gave its own products a competitive advantage.

The same court later said it had fined the Wikimedia Foundation, which owns Wikipedia, 3 million roubles for the same offence.

Wikimedia has been fined several times and has previously said information that Russian authorities complained about was well-sourced and in line with Wikipedia standards.

($1 = 93.5775 roubles)

(Reporting by Reuters; Writing by Alexander MarrowEditing by Gareth Jones and Alison Williams)