A Moscow court on Tuesday fined Google for failing to store personal data on its Russian users, the latest in a series of fines on the U.S. tech giant amid tensions between the Kremlin and the West over the fighting in Ukraine.
A magistrate at Moscow’s Tagansky district court fined Google 15 million rubles (about $164,200) after the company repeatedly refused to store personal data on Russian citizens inside the country. Google was previously fined over the same charges in August 2021 and June 2022. The company declined to comment.
Google also was ordered to pay a 3 million ruble (about $32,800) fine in August for failing to delete allegedly false information about the conflict in Ukraine.
Russia can do little to collect the fine, however, as Google’s Russia business was effectively shut down last year after Moscow sent troops into Ukraine. The company has said it filed for bankruptcy in Russia after its bank account was seized by the authorities, leaving it unable to pay staff and suppliers.
Russian courts also have fined Apple and the Wikimedia Foundation, which hosts Wikipedia.
Since sending troops into Ukraine in February 2022, Russian authorities have taken measures to stifle any criticism of the military campaign.
Some critics have received severe punishments. Opposition figure Vladimir Kara-Murza was sentenced this year to 25 years in prison for treason stemming from speeches he made against Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
Sasha Skochilenko, an artist and musician from St. Petersburg, is on trial on charges of spreading false information about the military for replacing supermarket price tags with protest slogans. Prosecutors have asked for an eight-year prison sentence for her.
Donald Trump is pushing for his federal election interference trial in Washington to be televised, joining media outlets that say the American public should be able to watch the historic case unfold.
Federal court rules prohibit broadcasting proceedings, but The Associated Press and other news organizations say the unprecedented case of a former president standing trial on accusations that he tried to subvert the will of voters warrants making an exception.
The Justice Department is opposing the effort, arguing that the judge overseeing the case does not have the authority to ignore the long-standing nationwide policy against cameras in federal courtrooms. The trial is scheduled to begin on March 4.
``I want this trial to be seen by everybody in the world,” Trump said Saturday during a presidential campaign event in New Hampshire. “The prosecution wishes to continue this travesty in darkness and I want sunlight.”
Lawyers for Trump wrote in court papers filed late Friday that all Americans should be able to observe what they characterize as a politically motivated prosecution of the Republican front-runner for his party’s 2024 nomination. The defense also suggested Trump will try to use the trial as a platform to repeat his unfounded claims that the 2020 election that he lost to Democrat Joe Biden was stolen from him. Trump has pleaded not guilty.
“President Trump absolutely agrees, and in fact demands, that these proceedings should be fully televised so that the American public can see firsthand that this case, just like others, is nothing more than a dreamt-up unconstitutional charade that should never be allowed to happen again,” Trump’s lawyers wrote.
The request for a televised trial comes as the Washington case has emerged as the most potent and direct legal threat to Trump’s political fortunes. Trump is accused of illegally scheming to overturn the election results in the run-up to the violent riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, by his supporters.
President Joe Biden’s second attempt at student loan cancellation began moving forward Tuesday with a round of hearings to negotiate the details of a new plan.
In a process known as negotiated rulemaking, 14 people chosen by the Biden administration are meeting for the first of three hearings on student loan relief. Their goal is to guide the Education Department toward a proposal after the Supreme Court rejected Biden’s first plan in June.
The negotiators all come from outside the federal government and represent a range of viewpoints on student loans. The panel includes students and officials from a range of colleges, along with loan servicers, state officials and advocates including the NAACP.
In opening remarks, Under Secretary of Education James Kvaal said the student debt crisis has threatened to undercut the promise of higher education.
“Student loan debt in this country has grown so large that it siphons off the benefits of college for many students,” Kvaal said in prepared remarks. “Some loans made to young adults stretch into retirement with no hope of being repaid. These debt burdens are shared by families and communities.”
Biden directed the Education Department to find another path to loan relief after the conservative court ruled that he couldn’t cancel loans using a 2003 law called the HEROES Act.
The latest attempt will rest on a sweeping law known as the Higher Education Act, which gives the education secretary authority to waive student loans — although how far that power extends is the subject of legal debate. The department is going through the negotiated rulemaking process to change or add federal rules clarifying how the secretary can cancel debt.
A federal judge on Saturday blocked two portions of North Carolina’s new abortion law from taking effect while a lawsuit continues. But nearly all of the restrictions approved by the legislature this year, including a near-ban after 12 weeks of pregnancy, aren’t being specifically challenged and remain intact.
U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles issued an order halting enforcement of a provision to require surgical abortions that occur after 12 weeks — those for cases of rape and incest, for example — be performed only in hospitals, not abortion clinics. That limitation would have otherwise taken effect on Sunday.
And in the same preliminary injunction, Eagles extended beyond her temporary decision in June an order preventing enforcement of a rule that doctors must document the existence of a pregnancy within the uterus before prescribing a medication abortion.
Short of successful appeals by Republican legislative leaders defending the laws, the order will remain in effect until a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and a physician who performs abortions challenging the sections are resolved. The lawsuit also seeks to have clarified whether medications can be used during the second trimester to induce labor of a fetus that can’t survive outside the uterus.
The litigation doesn’t directly seek to topple the crux of the abortion law enacted in May after GOP legislators overrode Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto. North Carolina had a ban on most abortions after 20 weeks before July 1, when the law scaled it back to 12 weeks.
The law, a response to the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down Roe v. Wade, also added new exceptions for abortions through 20 weeks for cases of rape and incest and through 24 weeks for “life-limiting” fetal anomalies. A medical emergency exception also stayed in place.
On medication abortions, which bill sponsors say also are permitted through 12 weeks of pregnancy, the new law says a physician prescribing an abortion-inducing drug must first “document in the woman’s medical chart the ... intrauterine location of the pregnancy.”
Eagles wrote the plaintiffs were likely to be successful on their claim that the law is so vague as to subject abortion providers to claims that they broke the law if they can’t locate an embryo through an ultrasound because the pregnancy is so new.